Marine Environment News in Brief - July 2022

Reporting on spatial squeeze in fisheries, alternative ways to power fishing vessels, state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2022 and much more.

Spatial Squeeze in Fisheries

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) contracted the marine consultancy ABPmer to develop a series of scenarios to better understand and communicate issues surrounding future spatial pressures on fisheries.

Intended as a starting point, the report provides an insight into the impact of spatial squeeze on fishing, emphasises the need for an improved evidence base for fisheries in marine spatial planning, and a strong and effective voice for fisheries in the planning process. The report concludes that displacement should be avoided, minimised and mitigated as far as possible through technology choice, design and siting, innovation and management.

Electrifying the Fleet

The fishing industry supplies nutritious food, with a significantly smaller environmental footprint than most other sources of protein. However, burning fossil fuel is a major driver of climate change. In response to the fuel and climate crises, NFFO, the Future Fisheries Alliance and the North Sea Wildlife Trusts commissioned the ‘Electrifying the Fleet report to assess alternative ways of powering fishing vessels. The report concludes that, while no off-the-shelf solutions are currently available, existing technologies could be used to build hybrid diesel-electric systems that would achieve significant energy and emissions savings for static gear fishing vessels.

State of World fisheries and Aquaculture 2022

State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture: Towards Blue Transformation has been published. Blue Transformation aims to support resilience in aquatic food systems, ensure fisheries and aquaculture grow sustainably and upgrade aquatic value chains. Climate- and environment-friendly policies and practices, as well as technological innovations, are seen as critical to achieving this.

The fisheries and aquaculture sectors have been increasingly recognised for their essential contribution to global food security and nutrition. The animal protein produced by aquaculture almost equals that from capture fisheries, 89% of this is used for human consumption. Although the fraction of fishery stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased slightly between 2017 and 2019 to 64.6%, the proportion of landings from biologically sustainable stocks increased to 82.5%.

UN Ocean Conference 2022

The UN Ocean conference took place in Lisbon, Portugal, between 27 June and 1 July. From rising sea levels and marine pollution to ocean acidification and habitat loss, the planet’s largest biodiversity reservoir is considered to be in jeopardy. This could derail progress on Sustainable Development Goal 14 for global action on life below water. Additionally, cumulative human impacts on the ocean will exacerbate the climate emergency, and hinder the aspirations of The Paris Agreement.

The Conference saw the unanimous adoption of the Lisbon Declaration, a suite of science-based and innovative actions, taking into account the capacity challenges facing developing countries at the frontline of the devastating impacts of the ocean emergency.

The UK government, with Iceland, Canada and the US, launched a global alliance to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The IUU Fishing Action Alliance will bring together countries leading the fight against IUU fishing, countries targeted by IUU fishing, and organisations helping tackle the issue.

The Global Ocean Decade Programme for Blue Carbon (GO-BC) was also launched. This will act under the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to enhance collaboration on ocean science, provide a robust evidence base to protect and restore blue carbon habitats and build resilient marine ecosystems.

Welsh Aquaculture Sector Locational Guidance

The Welsh Government has updated the Aquaculture Sector Locational Guidance (SLG), which supports the Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP) policy for the sustainable development of aquaculture. The SLG describes the resources relevant to the sector’s future prospects, how it may interact spatially with other sectors and also wider social and ecological considerations. It is intended this SLG will help guide the industry in their planning for future development (including potential consenting complexities) and promote the engagement and dialogue within and between sectors.

Water Quality Investigation Launched

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has announced that it will investigate the roles of Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Defra Secretary of State in the regulation of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in England.  The aim is to determine whether these authorities have failed to comply with their respective duties in relation to the regulation, including the monitoring and enforcement, of water companies’ own duties to manage sewage. 

Wastewater Company Water Quality Action Plans

All major water companies in England are currently subject to an Ofwat on-going investigation into whether their wastewater treatment works are operating as they should. In March 2022, Ofwat asked them to set out how they were going to tackle storm overflow issues and improve river quality to deliver an immediate reduction in harm and to rebuild customer trust. Ofwat has published its response to these plans, which highlights the commitments made for improvement. These demonstrate what the sector can achieve in the short term to tackle harm caused by storm overflows.

European Parliament and Council for a proposal for Regulation on Nature Restoration

Despite EU and international efforts, biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems has continued. The proposal for a regulation on nature restoration sets out an overarching objective: to contribute to the continuous, long-term and sustained recovery of biodiverse and resilient nature across the EU’s land and sea areas by restoring ecosystems and to contribute to achieving climate mitigation and adaptation objectives, and to meet its international commitments.

Consultations

  • 30 August 2022: Defra consultation on Principles of Marine Net Gain.
  • 7 Sept 2022: Ofwat consultation on 2024 price review methodology covering expectations and requirements for water companies.
  • 12 Sept 2022: Scottish Government consultation on Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2022, which includes targets for the marine environment.
  • 19 Sept 2022: Defra consultation on managing quota in 2023 and beyond.
  • 28 Sept 2022: Defra consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas.

Contacts 

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