Marine Environment News in Brief - December 2020 — Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - December 2020

Our monthly marine environment news update for December 2020

Fisheries Act 2020

On 23 November the UK’s first major domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years, the Fisheries Bill, received royal assent and has now passed into law. Underpinning the Act is a commitment to sustainability, to ensure healthy seas for future generations of fishermen. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations will now develop fisheries management plans to benefit the fishing industry and the wider marine environment.

English Aquaculture Strategy

An English Aquaculture Strategy which outlines a plan for growth across the sector has been published by Seafood 2040. The Strategy sets out a vision for aquaculture in England, showing how the sector could become a significant contributor to increased seafood consumption. It also provides a Delivery Plan for sustainable growth of English aquaculture over the next 20 years. This Plan supports a planned ten-fold increase in production, to approximately 90,000 tonnes, by 2040.

View the English Aquaculture Strategy

New Scottish Marine Protected Areas

Four new Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas have been designed:

  • North-east Lewis:The protected features include Risso’s dolphins and sandeels.
  • Sea of the Hebrides: The protected features include basking sharks and minke whale.
  • Shiant East Bank: The protected features include sponge, seafans and coral habitats.
  • Southern Trench:The protected features include minke whale.

Twelve new or extended Special Protection Areas (SPAs) have also been designated:

  • Solway Firth
  • Seas off St Kilda
  • Seas off Foula
  • Moray Firth
  • Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch
  • Firth of Forth and Outer St Andrews Bay complex
  • Bluemull and Colgrave Sounds
  • East Mainland Coast Shetland
  • Sound of Gigha
  • Coll and Tiree
  • Rum
  • West Coast Outer Hebrides

Defra have also announced an extension to the English part of the Solway Firth SPA.

Further information on these MPA designations can be found on the Scottish Government and Defra websites.

European Court of Auditors (ECA) Special Report on Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep

The report notes that while a legislative framework is in place to protect the marine environment, EU actions have not restored Europe’s seas to good environmental status. Although good progress has been made in the Atlantic region, not all fishing is sustainable in European waters.

The report concludes that:

  • EU protection rules have not led to the significant recovery of protected species, ecosystems and habitats;
  • MPAs currently provide limited protection;
  • the provisions to coordinate fisheries policy with marine protection policy are not used in practice; and
  • relatively few of the funds available (e.g. EMFF) are used to for conservation measures.

Read the Special Report on the Marine Environment on the ECA website.

Natural England Report: Development of an eDNA monitoring method for inshore fish populations.

The report by Natural England identifies the spatial scale and frequency of sampling required to effectively monitor inshore fish communities. eDNA samples were collected from six locations across the south coast of England between October 2019 to February 2020. In total, 74 fish species and two marine mammal species were characterised. Of these: 36 species were recorded as economically valuable; 19 species were identified as UKBAP-listed protected species; and one species was recognised as a non-native species.

Read the eDNA fish population report on the Natural England website.

Call for Volunteer Skippers to aid Data Collection

CEFAS is calling for volunteer skippers to contribute to important management decisions through data collection as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed restrictions on fisheries observers joining vessels. The sampling will focus on 800 vessels that predominantly target demersal finfish, Nephrops and shrimps with trawls and nets.

Further information on the volunteer skipper call can be found on the CEFAS website.

Rethinking Water – Citizen Juries

A number of events to gather views for the Rethinking Water project are being organised by the Environment Agency (EA) as part of how water management will be carried out.

This will be an opportunity to hear evidence, discuss the issues and produce recommendations for the future of water management in the UK. Specifically the EA are looking for participants to answer the question ‘How do you connect with water in your local environment, and what needs to be changed in the future to benefit people and wildlife?’

The citizens’ jury for the lower river Tyne will take place online (using video calls) in January 2021 over two Thursday evenings (January 21st and 28th, 7-9 p.m.) and two Saturdays (January 23rd and 30th, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-4:30 p.m.). There will be two more events in February and March. For more information contact Toni Scarr (

Fisheries Innovation Scotland Call for Expressions of Interest

Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS) is inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) to address specific research requirements:

  • Project FIS035: How should GHG emissions from Scottish fishing vessels be measured and quantified? What are the most effective means to reduce these emissions?
  • Project FIS036: What digital tools will the most sustainable and prosperous fishing vessels of the future use? How can the Scottish fleet progress to this level of digitalisation? What value will this add to our seafood industry?

The EoI period closes on Monday 14th December 2020. A request for a full proposal will be sent to shortlisted partners by the end of December 2020.

Further information and the application forms can be found on the FIS website.


11 December: Scottish Government consultation on environmental standards for the water environment.
15 December: MMO consultation on its draft assessments and proposed management measures for five Marine Protected Areas:

o Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation (East of England);
o Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge (Lincolnshire coast in the vicinity of Skegness);
o The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone (South West - Cornwall);
o South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone; and
o Studland Bay Marine Conservation Zone (Dorset).

22 February 2021: DAERA consultation on fisheries management measures for MPAs and establishment of scallop enhancement sites in the Northern Ireland inshore region.


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