Commercial coalition to focus on MPAs

The new Marine Acts have created legal obligations for the UK and devolved governments to introduce Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in UK waters.

A new UK-wide fishing industry body, the MPA Fishing Coalition, has been formed to help ensure that the interests of commercial fishermen are fully taken into account during the consultation and designation process of MPAS as many in the commercial fishing sector believe they represent the biggest potential threat of loss of access to their fishing grounds that they have ever faced.

In a presentation before Westminster MPs, representatives of the MPA Fishing Coalition underlined the importance of ensuring that Marine Protected Areas are introduced in a way that minimises the impact on the traditional and sustainable activities of the fishing industry.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said: “There is a diverse range of interests and activities in the marine environment and the process for planning and protection is incredibly complex, given that as well as various European habitat directives we also have two new Marine Acts.

“There is real concern that the fishing industry will end up in its normal default position of being the first to suffer. The aim of this Coalition is to ensure that fishing takes its rightful place at the heart of marine planning. It is vital that a sensible balance is achieved between marine protection and ensuring that fishermen can continue to sustainably harvest a wonderful and renewable food resource.”

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said: “Our intention in establishing this group is to provide the fishing industry with a powerful negotiating platform.

“In many instances the only way fishermen are going to avoid being swept off their grounds is by presenting a strong, coherent case backed by supportive evidence. The Coalition has been formed as an instrument of mutual support so that individual fishermen or groups of fishermen will have strong backing in putting the strongest case possible forward in defence of their grounds.”

The marine recreational and tourism sectors need to follow this lead.

Category: Commercial

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