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Developing a participatory approach to the management of fishing activity in UK offshore Marine Protected Areas

The seas around the UK are a rich resource, providing us with food, a valuable income, raw materials, and opportunities for leisure and recreation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are tools to support the sustainable use of resources in the marine environment which helps ensure the conservation of the resource for future generations.

This project has brought together the fishing sector, regulators, scientific advisors and academic researchers to aid the development of an MPA Fisheries Management Toolkit. The focus is on the offshore waters around England, however the outcomes of the project are transferable and can be used to inform adaptive management projects and co-design approaches to fisheries management throughout UK waters.

The MPA Fisheries Management Toolkit is available to download from the Resource Hub as a PDF and is summarised on the Toolkit webpage. Workshop reports and presentations delivered during this project are available on the Project outputs webpage. Additional resources are available below to ensure a legacy to the project.


Key Messages

This short video provides a brief introduction to the project and captures the key messages from project participants. 


Project Presentation

This project presentation summarises the concept of the project along with the project deliverables. The presentation is available to download from the Resource Hub as a PowerPoint for future resources and is also available to watch via this video.


Project Report and Overview

The project report summarises the process and lessons learnt throughout the project providing recommendations for future processes. The report is available along with a one page project overview on the Resource Hub.


Project Partners

Funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), JNCC and partners – The Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Bangor University – have been exploring participatory processes for establishing, evaluating and adapting fisheries management measures in MPAs.

  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is a non-departmental public body that advises the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on UK and international nature conservation. JNCC provides evidence, information, and advice to governments, public bodies and stakeholders to support policy development, regulation and management of human activities to protect natural resources and systems. JNCC’s remit includes nature conservation issues affecting UK offshore waters, including raising public awareness of the value of offshore biodiversity.
  • Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is a non-departmental public body created in 2009 by the Marine and Coastal Access Act. MMO licence, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they are carried out in a sustainable way. MMO responsibilities include marine planning, marine licensing, managing fishing fleet capacity/ quotas, responding to marine emergencies, creation of marine conservation byelaws and enforcement for protected areas, species and habitats.
  • Natural England is a non-departmental public body that advises the Government on the natural environment, providing practical advice, grounded in science, on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of everyone. Natural England’s remit is to ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive. It is their responsibility to see that England’s rich natural environment can adapt and survive intact for future generations to enjoy.
  • The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is a representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  All sizes and classes of fishing vessel are represented, from under-10 metre beach launched vessels, to 110 metre pelagic freezer trawlers. 
  • Bangor University is a medium sized University with approximately 10 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It ranked in the top 25 (out of 134) Universities in the UK for research excellence in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The University is extensively involved in EU projects and the School of Ocean Sciences has had a particularly prominent role in many high profile marine science research programmes. The Fisheries and Conservation Group within SOS (Kaiser and Hiddink) has most recently co-led an international programme to quantify and model the effects of fishing on seabed ecosystems (funded by the Walton & Packard Foundations, the FAO and fishing industry bodies).

The project was launched in April 2018, and was completed in April 2020.

The project partners were delighted to have been awarded funding for this work through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and have enjoyed working with the fishing sector to achieve a common goal of conserving marine biological resources whilst enabling a sustainable future for our fisheries.


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