Marine Environment News in Brief - May 2022
Offshore Marine Protected Area Fisheries Management Measures
Following a public consultation, fisheries management measures have been introduced in four offshore marine protected areas:
- Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation covering bottom towed fishing gear;
- Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation covering bottom towed fishing gear and static fishing gears;
- South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone covering bottom towed fishing gear; and
- The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone covering bottom towed fishing gear and anchored nets and lines.
These have been introduced to protect the deep-sea bed habitats such as cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, and sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities. The byelaws come into force on 13 June.
Portelet Bay No Take Zone, Jersey
Jersey has designated its first No Take Zone in Portelet Bay. The Zone is expected to give marine life better protection and enable researchers to use the area as a natural lab. The new regulations, which came into effect at the beginning of May, mean it is now an offence to remove any marine species from the zone, or to use a fishing boat in it. Exceptions will be made for some scientific investigations.
The No Take Zone will be monitored for an initial five-year period to assess its benefits to fisheries and biodiversity.
Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill
The second reading of the Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill took place on 6 May. The Bill proposes a prohibition on demersal trawling in MPAs, with exceptions proposed to support small-scale fisheries and small boats fishing from UK ports, in areas where bottom trawling would not cause serious environmental damage.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) Marine Mammal Inquiry
Written evidence is being sort by the ERFA Commons Select Committee on Marine Mammals. The aim is to ascertain the status of marine mammal populations and how the UK can better protect them from fisheries bycatch and other human impacts.
Water Quality and Storm Overflows
The extent and understanding of storm overflows discharges has improved as ‘event duration monitors’ (EDM) have been added to around 80% of storm overflows and have started to produce data on how frequently, and for how long, they are discharging. Solutions are needed to alleviate the impacts on amenity and nature. All storm overflows will have monitors by the end of 2023, supporting the Environment Agency and Ofwat in holding water companies to account.
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) have published a report ‘River water quality and storm overflows: A systems-approach to maximising improvement’ that sets out the issue and makes recommendations for improvement.
Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment Programme
The UK Government has committed to leave the environment in a better state for future generations and reach net zero by 2050 while boosting the economy. The Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment Programme has been set up to collect data on the extent, condition and change over time of England’s ecosystems and natural capital, and the benefits to society on land and at sea.