New online service helps fishermen navigate commercial fishing gear restrictions in UK waters
The Kingfisher team at Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry, have launched a new Fishing Restrictions mapping service fishermen.
This free service allows fishermen to view all UK fishing gear restrictions in one place, with complete coverage of all regulatory authorities. The service has been fully funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
The Kingfisher team created this service following discussions with stakeholders in the fishing industry in relation to the difficulty they were experiencing in sourcing and understanding complex fishing legislation.
Information surrounding the protected areas has previously been spread across multiple websites and information sources, often missing positional data about restriction boundaries. Now, for the first time, they are available in one place and can be accessed (in port or at sea) via an interactive map, data plotters and information downloads. The restrictions can also be shared via WhatsApp, social media and email.
Eleanor Michie, GIS Analyst at Seafish and lead on the fishing gear restrictions mapping project said:
“We know that fishermen are currently facing difficulty in finding, interpreting, and plotting the commercial fishing restrictions in UK waters. The new mapping system aims to improve understanding and create a platform which can be used with confidence. It provides fishermen with an answer to the question ‘Am I allowed to fish here now?’
“In making this information easily available tofishermen, we hope to increase awareness of prohibited and permissible fishing operations and promote compliance with regulations and sustainable fishing practices.
“In order to ensure the system meets industry standard and is kept up to date, all gear restrictions have been categorised according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) fishing gear naming system.”
Dale Rodmell, Assistant Chief Executive at National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO), said:
“This project brings transparency to the regulations, to know where they apply, and make what is a rapidly-growing and complex set of rules easier to follow.
“If you are going out in your car, you need to know what the rules of the road are at any point during the journey, and it’s the same with fishing. On the road, this is done with road signs but there is no equivalent for sea fishing, and this project helps to fill that gap.
“It will make it much easier, especially when at sea to know what rules apply in a particular place, and helps to ensure no one inadvertently breaks them, which can only be good for the industry. It also ensures that the purposes of regulations are realised, and that in turn is a sign of sound fisheries governance.”
The Kingfisher team will also distribute the data on USB sticks via Fishing Associations towards the end of the year so that fishermen can easily add it to their plotters.