The seas around the UK are home to many biologically diverse habitats and species. They provide a rich source of food, and a livelihood for fishing communities. Careful management of this resource is essential to ensure that it remains productive for future generations.
Managing the impacts of fisheries
JNCC is responsible for the provision of clear, evidence-based advice on fishery policy and management, with a view to promoting the sustainable use of marine resources to UK and devolved governments, and the fishing sector. Managing fisheries to minimise impacts on the wider marine environment presents a complex set of challenges. We work with the fishing sector to achieve a common goal of conserving marine biological resources, whilst enabling a sustainable future for our fisheries.
Our experts have a detailed understanding of the interactions between fishing activities and UK marine biodiversity, and a successful track-record in developing and maintaining trusted relationships with the key stakeholders, including the fishing sector, regulators, decision-makers, research bodies and NGOs, both within the UK and internationally. We also have considerable experience of dealing with spatial fishing activities’ data. Our work includes:
- Provision of advice to fisheries’ managers on the development of appropriate management measures to minimise the impacts of fisheries on the marine environment.
- Development of proposals for management measures on offshore MPAs in UK waters. We are also leading a project to explore the concept of adaptive management of fishing activities in MPAs.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of MPA fisheries’ management in Marine Protected Areas and reporting on condition.
- Addressing specific aspects of fisheries that impact nature conservation interests (e.g. bycatch of protected species).
- Provision of advice to governments in the UK on specific issues associated with fisheries (e.g gear modification and activity displacement).
We are applying our knowledge further afield, and in particular have been working in the UK's Overseas Territories.
MPA Management Advice
JNCC has a key advisory role in helping the UK Government meet their commitment to develop an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. As part of this, the Fisheries Team works with partners to develop fisheries management proposals for designated Marine Protected Areas in UK offshore waters (defined as beyond 12 nautical miles from the UK coastline to the Exclusive Economic Zone boundary), European waters and further afield. Along with Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot), JNCC's Fisheries Team has produced a series of fisheries management guidance documents focussed on the impacts of fishing gears on MPA habitats and species.
These documents, available on JNCC's Resource Hub, present both the available evidence base to inform our advice and an assessment of confidence in the conclusions. This has enabled the team to present risk-based advice on the options available to fisheries managers in UK and devolved governments. Although it is not generally possible to quantify the degree of risk, it is possible to identify where risks may exist, and where this could be reduced through the introduction of management measures.