Summer 2022 update from Future of Our Inshore Fisheries

An update from our Fisheries Management team on work undertaken for the Future of Our Inshore Fisheries (FOIF) project.
FOIF logo with fishing gear in the background

What is FOIF again, and how is work delivered?

FOIF is an industry-led project which aims to improve management of the UK’s inshore fisheries. It brings together active fishermen with industry leaders, policy-makers, and researchers, to share knowledge and determine practical actions to help reform inshore fisheries management.

FOIF was established in 2019 at the Future of Our Inshore Fisheries conference. Despite the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic, project partners have met regularly since the conference to lay the foundations for the future.

A key focus since the conference has been the creation of groups to deliver work on shellfish and finfish fisheries. Over recent years the following groups have been created:

  • The Shellfish Industry Advisory Group (SIAG)
  • The Crab and Lobster Management Group (CMG)
  • The Whelk Management Group (WMG)
  • The Finfish Industry Advisory Group (FIAG)

Jointly, these groups aim to shape an improved fisheries management regime through their agreed work programmes.

Key deliverables so far this year have included starting work on shellfish fisheries management plans, securing funding for research, holding a workshop on whelk management effort and the inaugural meeting of the FIAG. Read on to find out more.

Photo of crab and lobster

Development of shellfish fisheries management plans

A key focus of the shellfish work has been the development of Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs). These plans are a requirement of the UK Fisheries Act 2020. They are an important part of our practical response to ensure sustainable management of these commercially important stocks.

Along with the CMG and the WMG, we have been formally commissioned as the delivery leads on two of Defra’s five ‘frontrunner’ Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs). The crab/lobster FMP and whelk FMP for English waters have been prioritised for delivery in 2023. Work is already underway on the plans as the CMG and WMG are in the process of drafting FMP objectives. They are also creating evidence statements to summarise current understanding of each fishery and identify knowledge gaps. Stakeholder engagement strategies have been drafted to ensure the industry will be involved throughout the FMP development process.

The SIAG is also drafting a set of common shellfish FMP objectives that will be included in the crab, lobster, whelk, and king scallop FMPs. These objectives will cover overarching issues relevant to all fisheries, for example:

  • ensuring the shellfish sector is appropriately engaged on marine spatial planning issues
  • promoting domestic and export trade opportunities
  • addressing welfare issues or concerns

Shellfish research projects

In January, the CMG and WMG were successful in securing Fishing Industry Science Partnership funding to undertake two significant research projects.

One project will focus on using artificial intelligence and camera systems to improve catch composition data for crab and lobster. This will be delivered via the CMG.

The second project is a combined whelk data improvement project to be delivered via the WMG. It will look at whelk pot design to reduce bycatch by trialling artificial whelk baits. The project will also gather anecdotal data from whelk fishers to inform stock boundary definition.

Photo of a small group of whelks

Whelk Effort Management workshop

Our whelk effort management workshop held at Fishmongers' Hall on 17 March 2022. It was a huge success and very well received. The workshop set out to:

  • Discuss the issues and risks from increased fishing effort in the UK whelk fishery; and
  • Explore options to better control fishing effort.

We will produce a post-workshop report and put forward a set of possible future management scenarios for Whelk Management Group members to review.

Finfish fisheries management

The Finfish Industry Advisory Group (FIAG) was established in March 2022. It brings together industry stakeholders from across the supply chain, scientific researchers and regulators to work collaboratively to improve the management of finfish non-quota species.

The inaugural meeting of the FIAG was held in March 2022 with over 30 members in attendance from across the UK. Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture, Fisheries & Sustainable Sourcing at Morrisons Supermarkets was appointed interim Chair and will lead the group for the first year.

The inaugural meeting allowed industry stakeholders to highlight a range of important issues to inform the year one work programme. The draft proposal for this includes:

  • establishing a series of sub-groups focused on facilitating engagement in developing English FMPs
  • forming three sub-groups based on key areas of stakeholder interest raised during the first meeting

The draft year one work programme is currently under review by FIAG members.

Find out more

Further information on FIOF and each of the related groups is available from the links below:

If you have any queries about the FIOF or the related groups please contact Rebecca Treacy, Shellfish Fisheries Analyst, on rebecca.treacy@seafish.co.uk.