Marine Environment News in Brief - July 2021

Our monthly marine environment news update for July 2021.

Fishing Regulations: The Blue Book

The Blue Book, a single collection of UK and EU laws, has been updated. Subjects covered include the legislation for sea fishing in general, the statutory instruments amending retained EU law, access to British fisheries limits, quotas and conservation measures, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The Blue Book can be accessed on the Government website.

New Technical Fisheries Measures in the Celtic Sea

New measures for all demersal trawls (excluding beam trawls) and seines are to be introduced in the Celtic Sea mixed fisheries. This follows the conclusion of negotiations between the UK and the EU on catch limits for shared fish stocks for 2021.

The measures are expected to enter force on 5 September 2021, and apply to fisheries with highly mixed catches, with the aim of reducing the bycatch of valuable non-quota species such as cod, haddock and whiting. Discussions on selectivity standards applying to beam trawl fisheries remain ongoing.

Further information on the new technical measures can be found on the Government website.

Marine Plans

The Government has adopted and published marine plans for the North East, North West, South East and South West.   These plans, covering all of England’s seas, aim to provide an integrated framework for sustainable development and management; guiding developers, planning authorities and other decision-makers. The plans and supporting documents can be found on the Government website:

Coastal Concordat

The Coastal Concordat has been updated. This sets out how regulatory bodies co-ordinate the separate processes for coastal development consents in England, supporting decision-making between Local Authorities and those regulators who work in the marine area. Working under the concordat is currently a voluntary arrangement, although the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan aim is for all Local Authorities with a coastal interest to adopt it.

Offshore wind development and Biodiversity Net Gain

Offshore wind is a cornerstone of the UK’s Net-Zero targets. The Crown Estate and UK Government (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [Defra] and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy [BEIS]) have formed the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme (OWEC). The aim of which is to ensure the UK offshore wind sector can deliver at pace while protecting the natural environment.

OWEC commissioned the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to undertake a Review of Priority Evidence Needs. Linked to the expected expansion in the industry, Natural England has published an Approach to Offshore Wind and will seek to ensure new projects ‘build in’ plans, to enhance nature and protect the natural environment from the pressures presented by each new offshore wind development.

Climate Crisis Advisory Group

The Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) has been created in response to the climate emergency. CCAG is being led by Sir David King, the UK government’s former chief scientific advisor and special representative for climate change. It is modelled on the independent SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) which was set up by King last year, to provide advice to the UK government and the public on the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. CCAG will take a global approach.

CCAG aims to help in the development of constructive proposals and policies using the best available science, to help the public, international governments and financial institutions move toward action for ‘climate repair’. The group will meet monthly, streaming live on YouTube and Twitter. They will also publish monthly reports and the first CCAG report can be accessed on their website.

Whelk Stock Survey

An online survey to gather information from fishers on their local whelk stocks has been launched by The Whelk Management Group (WMG). The group has members from industry, government and the research community.

The aim of the survey is to help understand local variations in whelk populations and how this affects the long-term sustainable national management of the fishery.

Whelk fishers are being asked to provide information on:

  • their fishing vessel and fishing activity;
  • where they fish for whelks; and
  • the whelks they catch (including typical size, shape and unique features).

The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and can be completed on a laptop, tablet or mobile device. The survey will run until August 2021.

All responses will be anonymised and stored securely by Heriot-Watt University. Only aggregated responses will be shared and exact fishing areas will never be published, so individual fishing grounds will not be identifiable.

The survey can be accessed on the Herriot-Watt University website.

Highly Protected Marine Areas

The UK government has committed to designating pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters by the end of 2022. Stakeholders are currently being invited to propose potential sites by 31 August 2021.

Further information, including guidance for submissions, can be found on the JNCC website.

Consultations:

  • 30 July: DAERA (Northern Ireland) consultation on amendments to the Marine Licencing (Exempted Activities) order (Northern Ireland) 2011.
  • 3 August: Scottish Government consultation on fish farm containment and marine mammal interactions code of practice.
  • 10 October 2021: DAERA (Northern Ireland) consultation on the third cycle river basin management plan 2021 to 2027.

Contacts

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