The NFFO has expressed concerns over leaked UK government plans for five HPMA sites in English waters
The Guardian newspaper has reported that the UK government is planning to create five highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) which will ban all fishing in their zones.
The new generation of marine nature reserves, which are governed by tougher regulations to allow decimated sea life to recover, are proposed for the coast of Lindisfarne in Northumberland and at Allonby Bay, Cumbria, and at three offshore sites, two in the North Sea and one at Dolphin Head in the Channel.
According to the article published yesterday, Monday 20 June 2022, the five sites in the pilot project are expected to pave the way for full HPMA status for some or all of the English sites in 2023 following a consultation. Separately, Scotland is now committed to fully or highly protected areas across 10% of its waters.
The news of the development has triggered concerns in the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation (NFFO) who today wrote:
“Leaked information regarding the establishment of five highly protected marine areas has now appeared in the press. The NFFO has expressed concern, not so much about the choice of individual sites, which will now be subject to consultation, but the exclusion of fishing representative organisations from the whole process of establishing Highly Protected Marine Areas. Whilst the government has worked with environmental NGOs, there has been no parallel engagement with the fishing industry – the sector that is likely to be the most impacted by HPMAs.
“At the same time, the government has failed to provide any coherent policy to deal with the inevitable displacement effects of its marine protection policies and the accelerated expansion of offshore wind. As 38% of English waters are now designated as marine protected areas, a spatial squeeze, displacing fishing vessels from their customary grounds is now an imminent reality. Forcing inshore fishing vessels to steam further offshore, or offshore vessels inshore is a recipe for chaos. Since the issue was raise with ministers in May 2021, there has been no sign that the issue has moved beyond lip-service. Post-Brexit, in which the Government failed to deliver on its windy rhetoric, the calculation must be that there are more votes in its green credentials than fishing.
“Understanding the cumulative impact of potential displacement of fishing activity should be a government priority. but clearly isn’t. The fishing federations will have more to say about this towards the end of this month, when a report on the spatial squeeze is published.”