Marine Environment News in Brief - October 2020 — Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - October 2020

Our monthly marine environment news update for October 2020

Fisheries Bill

The Fisheries Bill is due to have its report stage and third reading on 13 October 2020; amendments can still be made to the Bill at report stage. Thereafter, the Bill will receive Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament.

A Fisheries Agreement has been signed between Norway and the UK; the UK’s first such agreement since leaving the European Union, and its first as an independent coastal state in 40 years. UK and Norway will hold annual negotiations on the issues of access to waters and catch quotas. This is an important first step, given that in 2018, £32 million worth of fish were caught in Norwegian waters and landed in UK ports.

UK Marine Policy Statement updated

The Guidance to the UK Marine Policy Statement (MPS) explains how references to EU law should be interpreted following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. References in the MPS to European legislation and legal requirements are to be read as references to retained EU law from 1 January 2021.

You can read the Guidance on the UK Government website.

UN Report on Role of Fisheries Management in Aiding Ocean Biodiversity

The fifth edition of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published by the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), provides an overview of the state of nature worldwide. 

The report indicates that where good fisheries management policies have been introduced, marine fish stocks have been maintained or rebuilt. It also highlights that the growth in MSC-certified fisheries has helped progress the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘Life Below Water’.

The findings of the Global Biodiversity Outlook were tabled at the recent UN Summit on Biodiversity. Political leaders, representing 76 countries and the EU, committed to a Leader Pledge to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and step up ambition for nature, climate and people.

Read the Global Biodiversity Outlook report on the United Nations website.

Western Channel Cuttlefish report

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS) report describes port-based sampling, between December 2018 and June 2019, to investigate whether there were distinct combinations of time, location and gear that resulted in the capture of juvenile cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis). If smaller, immature animals are caught in substantial numbers, it will have a future negative impact on the sustainability of the fishery. Cuttlefish are typically mature when above 16cm mantle length and die after spawning (at 2 years old).

The data revealed that all gears catch immature and pre-spawning individuals, with approximately 75% of the landings by trawl gears considered immature. The findings implied that there was a degree of spatial separation between small and large cuttlefish, although more detailed fisheries-based sampling will be required to confirm this. 

Read the Western Channel Cuttlefish Report on the Government website.

Scallops, Greenpeace and Dogger Bank SAC

The King Scallop fishery at Dogger Bank has been closed since July 2020 to enable a scientific analysis of the state of the stock so that management decisions can be made in consultation with industry. The fishery was due to be reopened on 11 October, although the Scallop Industry Consultation Group has requested it remain closed until March 2021.

Greenpeace claim that they have observed illegal fishing during the closure and have recently dropped granite boulders in the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in a bid to stop the vessels operating. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has confirmed that potential breaches of marine legislation by Greenpeace are being investigated, as would any breach of the fishery closure.

Water Companies challenged by Defra

Water companies have been challenged by Defra to improve their environmental performance. As well as issues associated with chalk streams and leakages, the need for a reduction in the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather was highlighted. Any reduction in such discharges will be beneficial for bivalve mollusc producers.

A new taskforce has been set up between Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat and Water UK which will meet regularly and set out clear proposals to reduce the frequency and volumes of these incidents. The Environment Bill will also allow government to set legally binding wastewater targets.

Read about the challenge to water companies on Government website.

Marine Scotland Seeks Views on Effects of Pandemic on Fisheries and Aquaculture

Marine Scotland has launched three surveys that aim to collect information on how the Fishing and Aquaculture sectors has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can access the Fisheries and Aquaculture Survey on the Scottish Government website.


  • 22 October: Welsh Government consultation on reducing single-use plastic use in Wales.
  • 30 October: EU consultation on an initiative to amend the rules following requests from EU countries and stakeholders to provide more clarity in relation to food production, including toxins in bivalve molluscs and contaminants in fishery products.
  • 8 November: Maritime and Coastguard Agency consultation on a revised code of practice for the safety of fishing vessels of less than 15m length overall.
  • 17 November: Defra consultation on UK Marine Strategy Part Two: Marine Monitoring.
  • 17 November: Welsh Government consultation on Marine Strategy Part Two: UK proposed marine monitoring programmes.


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