Marine Environment News in Brief - June 2022

Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot Report, an investigation of crab and lobster mortalities in the NE of England and much more.

Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot Report

First report from The Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot project has been published; this  exemplifies one of the key functions of the Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (RIFG) network, highlighting how locally-led fisheries improvement projects can work in practice. The Pilot aligns with both the Scottish Government Fisheries Management (FFM) Strategy and the marine commitments within the Bute House Agreement.

The Pilot limits the number of creels that can be deployed, aiming to improve the management of shellfish stocks and enabling future generations to benefit from a resource that remains of vital importance to this island community. The pilot is also contributing to the development of tracking solutions for the Scottish static gear fleet.

NE crab and lobster mortalities

The investigation into the unusually high numbers of crab and lobster deaths along the north east coast of England between October and December 2021 has been published. This was a multi-agency investigation involving the Environment Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), North-East Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA), Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). No single, consistent causative factor was identified. However, a harmful algal bloom present in the area coincident with the event was identified as of significance.

Low impact fishing for king scallops

A paper has been published that describes how king scallops (Pecten maximus) can be attracted into static fishing gear using LED lights. This novel finding presents an opportunity for the development of a new, low impact fishing method for scallops. The illuminated pots also showed an increase in spider crab (Maja squinado) catches.

MMO call for evidence

The MMO has launched a call for evidence, which is open until 10 July 2022, seeking views on the draft assessment of the impacts of fishing activity using bottom towed gear on the designated features of 13 MPAs:

  • Cape Bank Marine Conservation Zone
  • East of Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone
  • Farnes East Marine Conservation Zone
  • Foreland Marine Conservation Zone
  • Haig Fras Special Area of Conservation
  • Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton Special Area of Conservation
  • Hartland Point to Tintagel Marine Conservation Zone
  • Goodwin Sands Marine Conservation Zone
  • Land's End and Cape Bank Special Area of Conservation
  • North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef Special Area of Conservation.
  • Offshore Brighton Marine Conservation Zone
  • South of Celtic Deep Marine Conservation Zone; and
  • Wight-Barfleur Reef Special Area of Conservation

Environment Agency Investigation of Water Companies

More than 2,200 sewage treatment works spanning all ten water and sewerage companies with wastewater treatment works that discharge into English waters are being scrutinised by the EA as part of their Flow to Full Treatment (FFT) investigation.

The initial analysis has confirmed that there may have been widespread and serious non-compliance with the relevant regulations. This criminal investigation is expected to take at least two years to complete. While the investigation progresses, the EA, Government and Ofwat are working to ensure water and sewerage companies take immediate action where potential breaches of permit conditions are identified.

House of Lords inquiry into Ofwat

The House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee has launched an inquiry into the Ofwat. The aim is to review Ofwat’s performance and to consider the adequacy of its remit, and how successfully it works with other regulators and authorities, primarily the EA and the Drinking Water Inspectorate. The Committee is inviting written contributions to its inquiry by Friday 24 June 2022.

Water Industry Forum Paper on ‘capitals’ approach to improving water quality

This Water Industry Forum’s paper, ‘Driving best value decision making within the water industry using a multi-capitals approach’, explains what is meant by a multi-capitals approach and the drivers and potential benefits of this approach. It also aims to demonstrate commitment across the industry, by both water companies and regulators, to ensure that decisions better reflect the wider benefits and impacts of the water industry’s services and activities.

Water UK White Paper

The industry body Water UK has published a White Paper which sets out the sector’s vision for an improved water system in England by 2050. Without urgent action future generations will face significant challenges to maintain water supplies, tackle water quality issues and meet environmental targets. The sector recognises the need for better systems and collaboration with Government to accelerate improvements.

Consultations:

  • 27 June 2022: Defra consultation on environmental targets, including marine biodiversity and water quality (deadline extended as evidence for proposed targets published).
  • 10 July 2022: MMO consultation on fisheries management measures for 13 MPAs.
  • 30 August 2022: Defra consultation on Principles of Marine Net Gain.

Contacts

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