On 8 December, Amy Pryor – Programme Manager at TEP, gave evidence on behalf of the Coastal Partnerships Network and the Coastal Communities Alliance to parliament in relation to the Fisheries Bill. You can watch the full session here.
As chair of the Coastal Partnerships Network, Amy’s role is to provide a national voice for local Coastal Partnerships and work with other national coastal groups such as the Coastal Communities Alliance.
Her evidence to parliament covered financial assistance, marine planning, quota allocation and regional management and her key messages were:
- Need for integrated management across our land and water – Our coast is suffering from a lack of join-up between two planning systems – one on the land and one on the water – and two environmental quality directives – Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive – with gaps in the middle. The Fisheries Bill can’t solve all of this but can make a start towards an ecosystem approach that recognises the impacts land has on water and vice versa, joining them up and starting on the road to the integrated approach called for within the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
- Importance of estuaries and intertidal areas – Management of UK fisheries must recognise the importance of estuaries and intertidal habitats such as saltmarsh as nursery and refuge grounds for juvenile fish. For example the Thames Estuary is the largest nursery ground for bass, feeding the entire North Sea stock. Sensitive management and higher than current best practice standards for all sectors within estuaries and intertidal areas should be embedded throughout fisheries management as part of an ecosystem-based approach. Without these areas, our stocks will crash.
- Need for locally based inshore fisheries management – The Fisheries Bill should empower Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities to manage fisheries, including quota allocation, at a local level extending their remit from 6nm to 12nm. Along with scientific evidence collected in partnership with local fishers this would also enable local and fair distribution of quota based on sound science, local knowledge and collectively agreed management measures. This kind of community based approach to shared resource management could be led by the IFCA and facilitated by a local coordination mechanism such as a Coastal Partnership.
- Need for fair quota allocation – Fisheries have shaped the identity and economies of our coastal communities and are often thriving businesses in otherwise highly deprived areas. Fishing presents the opportunity to re-generate deprived coastal communities. All fisheries administrations should use transparent and objective criteria, including those of an environmental and social nature, recognising the fishery as public property held on trust for the people of the UK. Shifting to a criteria-based approach of active management would lead to a more equal and equitable model rewarding those who help to deliver the high environmental stewardship we seek as a society and embedded in the MCAA and government’s commitment to enhancing the environment in the 25 Year Environment Plan.
- Need for cross cutting and holistic funding streams – Financial Assistance should emulate the successful Community – Led Local Development models funded through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund such as the Fisheries Local Action Groups e.g. *North Thames FLAG. Other national funds could be more holistic and wide ranging in approach. For example the current Coastal Communities Fund could look at bolstering the socio-economic status of deprived coastal fishing communities via the mechanism of adding value to local, sustainable and inshore fisheries throughout the supply chain. Flood defence and river basin management funding could be used to benefit intertidal areas and quaysides through use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, natural flood management, managed realignment and fish passage across multiple upstream barriers. These all contribute to the health of our fish stocks and coastal water quality and thus our fisher and coastal communities.
*TEP is playing its part in creating a sustainable fishing industry in the North Thames by managing the North Thames FLAG. Click here to read more about this initiative.