Marine Environment News in Brief - February 2022

The latest news on the protection of cod spawning grounds, MMO Guidance on I-VMS for Under-12m fishing vessels and consultations.

Protection of cod spawning grounds in Firth of Clyde

Seasonal closures to protect spawning cod in the Firth of Clyde have been in place for the past 20 years. These will continue in 2022 and 2023 with additional measures.

During spawning, cod are very territorial and unwilling to leave their mating areas (‘leks’). As a result, they are less likely to try and evade oncoming fishing gear. Since its introduction, the Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) for the annual closure of the spawning ground has included exemptions to allow Nephrops trawlers, creels and scallop dredgers to continue to use the area, due to the low numbers of cod that they catch. However, the stock has shown little sign of recovery, so these exemptions are being removed.

Limiting physical disturbance during the spawning period will minimise disruption to the spawning environment and aid cod reproduction. Marine Scotland expect this measure to provide a higher chance of stock recovery and to contribute to a more sustainable fishery in the West of Scotland in the medium-longer term.

Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Fisheries and Protected Areas

The next event being held by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fisheries will examine how constructive relationships can be formed between the fishing industry and those establishing and managing marine protected areas (MPAs). The speakers will discuss how MPAs and other protective measures can be designed and operated in ways that support sustainable fishing efforts.

The event is free to attend and will take place online on Tuesday 22 February at 10am. You can register to attend the event on the AAPG Fisheries website.

Marine Management Organisation (MMO) Guidance on I-VMS for Under-12m Fishing Vessels

The MMO has published updated guidance for under-12m fishing vessels to help them prepare for the introduction of Inshore Vessel Monitoring Systems (I-VMS) later this year. The guidance contains information on key timings and the availability of a grant towards the purchase and installation of a device.

Global review of the impact of trawling on seabed

A global study of the impacts of bottom trawling in 24 large marine regions around the world has established a relationship between distribution and intensity of trawling activities and the health of seafloor communities. Fifteen regions studied were in a good condition. The North Sea, west of Iberia and Skagerrak-Kattegat had a degraded status, and the Adriatic Sea the lowest.

The results demonstrated that effectively managed and sustainable trawl fisheries are associated with regions having healthy seafloor communities. Where such communities were in a poor state, fish stocks were typically over-exploited and management regimes ineffective.

The global review by Pitcher and colleagues can be accessed on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science website.

Assessment of Government progress on ocean protection

In a speech to the Coastal Futures Conference in January 2021, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow declared 2021 to be a “Marine Super Year”, stressing that global leadership “really starts with our ambition and delivery at home”.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), a coalition of environment and wildlife organisations, developed a scorecard of five priority marine policy areas to test this ambition:

  • Deliver targets for ocean recovery
  • Protect and enhance marine biodiversity
  • Offshore planning reform
  • Action on bycatch
  • Action on blue carbon

WCL have undertaken an assessment and concluded that there has been distinct lack of progress in the majority of the priority areas. The assessment scorecard can be viewed on the WCL website

At the Coastal Futures Conference 2022 Minister Pow spoke about the Government’s ambition to be a world-leading fisheries management nation and the need to optimise the use of our seas, balancing the needs of industry with restoring and protecting the marine environment. The Minister’s speech can be accessed on the Government website.

Consultations:

  • 15 February 2022: Welsh Government consultation on proposal to identify Col-Huw Beach (Llantwit Major) and Penarth Beach as bathing waters under the Bathing Water Regulations 2013.
  • 7 March 2022: MMO monitoring survey for the English marine plans.
  • 22 March 2022: Scottish Government consultation on Marine Litter Strategy.
  • 4 April 2022: Marine Stewardship Council consultation on the Review of the Fisheries Standard, which includes strengthening requirements for protected species, shark finning and ghost gear.
  • 12 April 2022: Defra consultation on the draft Joint Fisheries Statement.
  • 22 April 2022: Environment Agency consultation on draft river basin management plans, including protected shellfish waters.

Contacts

Contact our Regulation team on regulation@seafish.co.uk