Marine Environment News in Brief | December 2021 | Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - December 2021

The latest news on regulation in the marine environment, featuring the Environment Act 2021, Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill and consultations.

Kingfisher Launches Fishing Restrictions Mapping Service

The Kingfisher team at Seafish have launched a new Fishing Restrictions mapping service. This free service allows fishers to view all UK fishing gear restrictions, with complete coverage of all regulatory authorities.

In making this information easily available, Kingfisher hope to increase awareness of prohibited and permissible fishing operations and promote compliance with regulations and sustainable fishing practices. The information can be filtered to a particular area and gear type, and then downloaded for use on plotters. The service provides fishers with an answer to the question ‘Am I allowed to fish here now?’

Access the UK Fishing restrictions mapping service.

Seeking Cornish net fishers to participate in bycatch mitigation trial

In an effort to reduce the bycatch of dolphins and porpoises in static net fisheries, Clean Catch UK (CCUK) are looking to undertake commercial trials of Passive Acoustic Reflectors (PARs).

PARs work in a similar way to “cats’ eyes” in the road. Rather than light, the PARs bounce back the clicks emitted by a dolphin or porpoise, creating an ‘echo’. This should alert the cetacean to the presence of the net in front of them. There are no batteries, no electronics, the PAR is simply attached to the headline.

Starting in December 2021, CCUK are seeking 10 vessels in the South-west using static nets (gill, trammel, tangle) to trial how effective, robust, and practical PARs are in the commercial fisheries. Further information and how to get involved in the PAR project can be found on the CCUK website.

Environment Act 2021

The long awaited Environment Act has now received royal assent. This legislation aims to improve air and water quality, halt the decline of species by 2030, to improve our natural environment and tackle waste.

Of key importance to shellfish producers and fishers are the requirements introduced for combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The Secretary of State is required to introduce plans to reduce discharges from CSOs and to reduce the adverse impacts of these discharges. This must include a reduction in frequency, duration and volume of the discharges in order to improve water quality and lessen impacts on public health.

The Environment Act 2021 can be accessed on the UK Government website.

Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill 

This Bill already recognises all animals with a backbone (vertebrates) as sentient beings. Crabs, lobsters and octopus have now also been recognised as sentient due to their complex central nervous systems.  

This will not affect any existing legislation or industry practices, nor will there be any direct impact on the shellfish catching or restaurant industry. Instead, the recognition is designed to ensure animal welfare is considered in future decision-making.

Access the Review of the Evidence of Sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans on the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) website.

Access the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill on the UK Parliamentary website.

Restoring marine and coastal habitats in Wales

Marine habitat restoration and creation potential has been assessed for Welsh waters. This work focused on intertidal mudflats, coastal saltmarshes, seagrass beds, horse mussel beds, honeycomb worm reefs and native oyster habitat. The report also looked at the role restoration plays in increasing the resilience of marine ecosystems and providing ecosystem services, such as improved coastal protection, better water quality and more carbon storage and sequestration.

The Habitat Restoration Report can be accessed on the Natural Resources Wales website.


  • 30 January 2022: Defra consultation on Quinquennial review of protected species listings for schedule 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
  • 22 April 2022: Environment Agency consultation on draft river basin management plans, including protected shellfish waters.


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