Marine Environment News in Brief - May 2021

Our monthly marine environment news update for May 2021.

Technological developments in UK Fisheries

Reducing the capture of non-target species and other impacts on the marine environment remains a key issue for the UK fishing fleet and the wider seafood supply chain.

The All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on Fisheries have published a policy brief and recording of their meeting on ‘Data, Tech and Innovation in UK Fisheries’. The meeting heard from a range of technologists and innovators on how data and technology are helping to improve the UK fisheries sector. The Policy Brief and recording can be found on the APPG website.

Seafish’s Fisheries Management and Innovation Group (FMIG) met to hear presentations and discuss the knowledge gained and the good practice that has been developed through UK selective gear trials, as well as looking ahead at the latest on-board technical innovations. The FMIG presentations can be found on the Seafish website.

Clean Catch UK

The seas around the UK support a variety of protected species such as dolphins and porpoises, seals, seabirds, sharks, skates and rays. The bycatch of such species is both an animal welfare and a conservation concern, but can also be a potentially distressing experience for fishermen.

Via an app, Clean Catch UK aims to collect data on the life histories, movements, distributions, behaviours, accidental capture and post-release survival of these species in UK commercial fisheries, initially focusing on the Celtic Sea.

More information on the app, including its installation and use, can be found on the UK Clean Catch website.

Ecosystem services and the UK’s Marine Accounts

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has valued the UK's marine natural capital assets at £211 billion. Their report notes that since 2016 sustainable fishing has been more profitable than unsustainable fishing, that marine carbon sequestration is significant and could be more than double the carbon removed by terrestrial habitats, and that the value of offshore wind has increased by 37 times in the last decade.

Read the UK Marine Accounts on the ONS website.

Water Quality Considerations

During wet weather, storm overflows act to prevent sewers becoming overloaded, releasing wastewater (i.e. a combination of sewage and rain water) into rivers and coastal environments. There has been growing concern regarding their increasing use in recent years, and Defra have announced that legal measures to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows will be put into law. The aim is to create three new duties:

  • a duty on government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows;
  • a duty on government to report to Parliament on progress on implementing the plan; and
  • a duty on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual

As part of this work the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) have initiated a review into water quality. Recordings of the verbal evidence, written evidence from Water UK and Ofwat, and other written evidence can be viewed on the Parliament website.

Rethinking Water – Citizen Juries

Events to gather views for the Rethinking Water project are being organised by the Environment Agency (EA) as part of how water management will be carried out. These Citizen Juries provide an opportunity to produce recommendations for the future of water management in the UK. The recommendations and presentations from the first two events are available on the Environment Agencies website:

• Citizens’ Jury for the Ouseburn River in Lower Tyne; and
• Citizens’ Jury on River Wharfe (Yorkshire).

Bivalve Molluscs

Seafish have been working to improve the bivalve-related resources available via our website. This includes the Bivalve shellfish purification, Hygiene, Marine biotoxins, and Delivering Safe Bivalves to the Market webpages, which also incorporate a number of new and updated pre-existing bivalve-related guidance documents covering food safety management procedures and end product testing.

Draft revised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard

Over the last year the MSC have been developing options for revisions to their Fisheries Standard. This includes consideration of shark finning, lost gear and ghost fishing, the bycatch of protected species and effective risk-based fisheries management.

MSC are now seeking additional stakeholder input through public consultation between 18 May and 17 June 2021. Links to the Fisheries Standard Review consultation can be found on the MSC website.

English Fisheries and Seafood Scheme (FaSS)

The Marine Management organisation (MMO) is administering the £6.1 million FaSS on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The fund aims to provide support for business’ to adapt to new markets and respond to new trading conditions, improve safety on fishing vessels and onshore, and to protect the environment.

The fund is only available over the next 12 months so projects must be fully formed and ready to progress quickly. The first panel for 2021 is scheduled to be held in the week commencing 21 June 2021, with the recommendation that completed applications are submitted to MMO by 7 May 2021.

Further information for FaSS can be found on the government website.


  • 22 May 2021: Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland consultation on food and feed hygiene and safety regulations.
  • 2 June 2021: Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland consultation on rationalisation of official control shellfish biotoxin and phytoplankton monitoring in Carlingford Lough.


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