Successfully involving the fishing sector and stakeholders in decision-making over the management of fisheries in marine protected areas (MPAs) is important to their overall effectiveness and sustainable management of our seas. The results of a new project including new tools and approaches to use when establishing, evaluating and adapting fisheries management measures in MPAs aims to help achieve just that.
The work has been led by JNCC, together with partners the Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Bangor University supported with funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries fund (EMFF). A series of workshops over the last two years were facilitated by independent consultants CAG and brought together the fishing sector, regulators, scientific advisors and academic researchers to inform the new guidance, resulting in the MPA Fisheries Management Toolkit.
The toolkit aims to provide a resource for those involved in, and affected by, fisheries management decision-making and lays out the key elements to consider when establishing a participatory approach to management in MPAs. Using two existing MPAs in the Irish Sea and North Sea as case studies to explore the challenges of managing sedimentary habitats; the project has focussed on mechanisms for enabling the fishing sector to engage positively with the management process and bring their perspectives and knowledge to the table.
It has been designed as a guide to help regulators assess the suitability of establishing a participatory approach, including governance structure, stakeholder balance, management objectives, and logistics. Each section comes complete with a standalone summary poster that highlights key information to help ensure that users can take away the key messages.
The work also includes the development of the Benthic Impacts Tool, a management decision-making support tool, drawing on the latest scientific understanding on the impacts of mobile fishing gears on the seabed.
Nick Greenwood, Principal Marine Conservation Manager, Marine Conservation Team, Marine Management Organisation, said “the project has been a fantastic opportunity to share perspectives on how and why we all participate in MPA management, and has produced some great resources which will hopefully help decision makers and stakeholders make the most of opportunities to come together”
Dale Rodmell, Assistant Chief Executive, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation, said “the work has married together an evidence-based approach to MPA management with a more in-depth involvement of those affected by decision-making. Ultimately, we want to see management outcomes that are widely supported and accommodate sustainable marine livelihoods with meeting management objectives.”
Declan Tobin, Marine Management Team Leader, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, said “as we enter a new era for management of our marine space, this project provided the perfect platform to bring key interest groups together. It offered an opportunity for all to express their views and opinions on what matters most and how to ensure a fair and equitable approach to management into the future. The guidance and tools that have come out of this work have been shaped by the various needs and concerns of all involved which should result in a positive legacy in guiding the next phase in sustainable management of our seas”.
Prof Jan Hiddink, Professor in Marine Biology, Bangor University said “It has been great to be involved in a project that explored and appreciated the need for a quantitative approach for the assessment of human disturbance on the marine environment. The Benthic Impacts Tool has been developed for exploring the application of data during management of human activities with the hope of being applicable to a wide range of activities, habitats and species in the future.”
All resources from the project are available here.