Last week’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries webinar was attended by a record number of attendees. Presented by an expert panel, and attended by interested MPs, Peers, and a range of stakeholders from the UK fishing industry, the event explored how regional decision-making was helping to improve fisheries management and the welfare of fishing communities across the country.
A panel representing a diverse range of fisheries initiatives presented case studies that explored the successes and challenges of local decision-making for UK fisheries management. “Our fishing communities and fisheries vary tremendously across the country,” said Sheryll Murray MP, who chaired the event. “Broad management efforts from the government are useful, but are most effective when applied alongside regional initiatives that have a deep understanding of the areas they operate in.”
Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council, actively engages with the city’s fishers, and shared some positive experiences from this close collaboration. Plymouth City Council have supported an initiative to increase use of lifejackets and are working with the fishing industry on a plan to build a world-class centre for fishing. “We hope that the models we have created in Plymouth could be utilised by other committees and organisations across the country,” he said.
“Fisheries management can be highly dynamic, and regional decision-making has allowed us to respond quickly to changes in fishing effort and sectoral conflicts” said Tim Smith, Senior Environmental and Scientific Officer for the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA). “Local knowledge and industry research participation have been vital in addressing environmental concerns and the potential impacts of gear conflict.” Tim attributes NEIFCA’s collaborative and consultative approach to helping Yorkshire’s inshore dredge scallop fishery to become sustainable and successful.
Considering whether localised successes could be replicated elsewhere around the UK coast, Chris Williams, Senior Programme Manager at the New Economic Foundation, cautioned, “Future funding should consider the capacity of fishing organisations to apply for funds and ensure that they are given the support they need to apply effectively.” He spoke about working with Graham Doswell and the Eastbourne Quay Project: a fisher-led programme that has overcome challenges brought on by contractors going into administration and the effects of the pandemic. The new Eastbourne fishing quay has now
entered the first phase of construction – developing the quay and its facilities for the benefit of the fishermen that use it.
Mike Simmonds, a Fisheries Network Coordinator who has worked at the national and regional level, spoke about how more ‘joined-up’ thinking could help streamline efforts between sectors and national and regional decision-makers for maximum effectiveness. He said that to make effective local decisions, every stage of the supply chain needs to be communicating effectively, and that local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships are best placed to determine local fishing industry needs.
APPG on Fisheries parliamentary member Peter Aldous MP shared insights into the work of the Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries (REAF), which – through support from all sectors – has developed the UK’s first regional fishing strategy. Their recommendations include investment in a regional fishing port, so it can expand its capacity to accommodate landings and vessel activity. Aldous said that their success can provide a template for similar efforts elsewhere in the UK, but agreed with earlier presenters when he emphasised that bespoke evidence-gathering and regionally-relevant approaches are necessary to ensure success.
Following the presentations, a question and answer session gave attendees from across the UK fisheries sector the opportunity to engage with each other and with Parliamentarians about how local decision-making can support the UK fishing industry.
A recording of this event and a summary of the discussion that took place can be found here, and an accompanying policy brief will also be available in due course. The APPG will hold its next event online on 4 November 2020 on the subject of climate change and UK fisheries, and anyone involved or with an interest in UK fisheries is invited to attend.
Source: Fisheries APPG Press Release