Marine Environment News in Brief - February 2021 | Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - February 2021

Our monthly marine environment news update for February 2021

Impact of Renewable Energy Developments on Fisheries

The Seafish Northern Ireland Advisory Committee (SNIAC) commissioned work to review the impact of renewable energy developments specifically in relation to crustacean fisheries. The study found that underwater noise, vibrations and electromagnetic fields interfered with cues usually taken from the natural environment. This negatively affected the ability of crustaceans to find food, shelter, and a mate. This could have a fundamental and negative impact on survival, reproduction and sustainability of important commercial species and fisheries.  

Read the blog, factsheet and the full report on the Seafish website.

Last year, the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) commissioned work to assess the impact of renewable energy developments on fisheries activity. This work provided an overview of the general impacts and highlighted co-existence solutions for both sectors. The study also has examples of good practice and lessons learnt, research gaps, and policy recommendations.

Read the PECH Summary and Impact study on the European Parliament’s website. 

UN FAO Committee on Fisheries

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Committee on Fisheries met virtually this month to discuss major international fisheries and aquaculture issues. Included was the progress in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the draft 2020 Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The papers for the meeting can be read on the FAO website.

UN FAO Guidelines to prevent and reduce bycatch of marine mammals in fisheries

Guidelines to prevent and reduce the bycatch of marine mammals have been introduced as part of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. They outline mitigation options such as spatial closures, the use of acoustic deterrents or alerting devices, modifications to fishing gear, and changes in fishing operations. Also addressed are future research and development needs.

The Guidelines to prevent and reduce marine mammal bycatch can be read on the FAO website.

Scotland’s Future Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030

This strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to managing Scotland's sea fisheries from 2020 to 2030. It covers the sustainability balance between environmental, economic and social outcomes. It also considers how the marine space can be shared to ensure the best decisions are made for the environment and those who depend on it.

Read the Future Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 on the Scottish Government website.

Update on Skye Pilot Judicial Review

The Skye Pilot Judicial Review has concluded that the Scottish Government’s handling of the Inshore Fisheries Pilot Programme and the decision to refuse a pilot proposal for the Inner Sound of Skye was unlawful.

The petition for judicial review was lodged by the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF) in August 2020. The Skye Pilot was designed to create separate zones for trawlers and creelers in order to study the respective economic and environmental performances of these two forms of fishing for Nephrops as well as trialling local management options.

Read a summary of the case on the Scottish legal News website and Lady Poole’s opinion on the Scottish Courts website.

Environment Bill

The Environment Bill started its report stage on 26 January. During this stage the House of Commons reviews the proposed amendments and can make further changes to the Bill. This meeting resulted in further progress being delayed until after the forthcoming recess. The report stage is now expected to resume after 22 February when Parliament returns, with the Bill receiving royal assent in the autumn.

Storm Overflows Taskforce

The Storm Overflows Taskforce, comprising Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Consumer Council for Water, Blueprint for Water and Water UK, has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. Water companies have agreed to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year round, especially after heavy rainfall. Water companies will also accelerate work to install monitoring devices to provide a better understanding of sewage discharges. This work is expected to benefit bivalve producers.

For further information on Storm Overflows Taskforce see the Government website.

Challenges and Choices Consultation Report

Last year the Environment Agency held the Challenges and Choices consultation on the future of river basin management plans. A short summary of the 606 responses received has now been published.

Read the summary of the Challenges and Choices consultation on the Government website.

Ocean Recovery 2021

The Ocean Recovery online conference focused on the problem of ocean restoration and explored what is needed from the coastal and marine environments. The Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, provided a keynote speech setting out the UK government’s vision for the seas, and highlighting a new cross-government Offshore Wind Enabling Actions Programme. Her speech can be read on the Government website. The speakers’ notes from the conference can be viewed on the Coastal Futures website.

Survey on environmentally friendly fishing gear

The Innovative Fishing Gear for Ocean (INdIGO) project is aiming to develop prototype biodegradable fishing gear and to improve the recycling of existing gear at the end of its life. CEFAS, one of the project partners, would like fishermen to participate in a survey that aims to develop an inventory of the types of plastics currently in use in the fishing and aquaculture sectors, and to identify what might or might not encourage fishermen to adopt biodegradable fishing gear.
More information on the project and the survey can be found on the INdIGO website.

Sea-Changers Coastal Fountain Fund 2021

The aim of this fund is to prevent or reduce marine litter impacts on the UK coastal and marine environment through the provision of well-located coastal water fountains that will significantly reduce the use of non-reusable plastic drinks bottles. A maximum sum of £2,000 per fountain is available and organisations can apply for funding for a single fountain. For further details see the Sea-Changers website.


  • 22 February 2021: DAERA consultation on fisheries management measures for MPAs and establishment of scallop enhancement sites in the Northern Ireland inshore region.
  • 28 March: MMO consultation on management of fishing activity in 4 MPAs: Dogger Bank SAC, Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC, South Dorset MCZ, and The Canyons MCZ.
  • 22 June 2021: Welsh Government consultation on river basin management plans for Western Wales and the Dee.


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