Good news for Devon and Severn shellfish in new report
Fishing in the Devon and Severn region is moving towards a more sustainable future according to a new report.
Local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) around England have been working with Project Inshore, run by Seafish, to identify best practice within fisheries and look at areas that need improvements. The expertise provided by the Devon and Severn IFCA has resulted in reports that could potentially improve catches and secure livelihoods for fishermen along the coast.
The Devon and Severn IFCA is one of the 10 IFCAs in England that manage the marine inshore environment around the coast. They have worked closely with the Project Inshore team over several years, providing vital staff time and data.
A key local species
The reports highlight 10 key species caught within the six mile inshore fisheries limit around the English coast that will have primary focus. The Devon and Severn whelk, lobster, brown crab and scallop fisheries in particular scored highly as priority species. These four priority species are determined on their value, local cultural and socio-economic importance and the management structure in place.
England’s lobster fishery is worth around £15.7 million and over 1,700 tonnes are landed each year. Most of these are caught by small, inshore boats. Investment in research on stocks and landings will allow fishery managers to improve the fisheries, securing livelihoods in coastal areas. Other stocks are equally important, if less glamorous: over £3.5million worth of whelks are caught each year, some of them being exported as far away as South Korea.
Good news for flat fish
The report found that flat fish fisheries such as sole and plaice caught by static nets in the Western Channel are already well-managed. It recommends that these fisheries could be ready to enter MSC assessment, aiming to gain the MSC’s blue ‘Certified Sustainable Seafood’ label.
The Devon and Severn IFCA said: “Devon and Severn IFCA has the two largest commercial fishing ports for both landings and value of commercial fish and shellfish in the country. The diversity of habitats in the IFCA’s coastal waters supports a great richness of fish species caught. The Project Inshore report provides information that may be of use for the future management of these sea fish resources and highlights opportunities to harmonise management within the South West region.”
The Devon and Severn IFCA is also pioneering mechanisms to allow adaptive management through permitting byelaws as designed for in the drafting of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Applying management through permit conditions allows changes to be made more easily, including those suggested by the fishing industry, without changing the byelaw, but still following a robust protocol to avoid any sub-delegation concerns..
Chloe North, MSC’s UK Fisheries Outreach Officer, said: “This is great news for Devon fishermen. This report is a credible resource for those who are in a position to drive greater understanding and management of our complex inshore fisheries. Having such a clear and definitive road-map for our inshore fisheries will lead to a more sustainable future for the fleet and coastal communities.”
History of the report
The report is stage 3 of 4 of Project Inshore, a three year project to map England’s inshore fisheries, identify the best performing fisheries and use their best practice techniques and management to make recommendations to further improve others. The aim of Stage 3 is to provide a strategic sustainability review for 9 of the individual IFCA regions around England. The species identified as the best candidates for improvements are: lobsters, whelks, cockles, European oysters, spider crabs, cuttlefish, mussels, clams, crawfish and brown shrimp. The report also identified fish stocks that straddled management boundaries, such as sea bass and lemon sole where national and European management could further improve the sustainability of these key species.
This project is a collaboration between industry body, Seafish, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Shellfish Association of Great Britain with considerable input from the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and an expert Advisory Group. Over 450 pre-assessments were carried out around England, providing a great start for every inshore fishery in the UK to work towards a high level of sustainability.
The Devon and Severn IFCA is one of the 10 IFCAs in England that manage the marine inshore environment around the coast.
The model is being replicated around the world including Western Australia and the Mediterranean.
(from a press release)
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