Chief Officer, Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MACAA) introduced a new framework for managing the marine environment and providing greater access to it. The Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (D&SIFCA) were established by The Devon & Severn IFCA Order 2010. The powers and duties of the D&SIFCA are provided by MACAA. The Act aimed to put in place better systems for delivering the sustainable management of the marine and coastal environment by creating a coherent network of marine protected areas (MPA) through the introduction and management of coastal European Marine Sites (EMS) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ). The IFCAs have been provided with the ability to undertake the management of MPAs within their districts through modernised powers and greater duties to undertake an important role in marine conservation.
The IFCA approach is to ensure delivery of their statutory duties and to be guided by the Government’s Marine Policy Statement and adherence to the High Level Marine Objectives which can be summarised as:
- Achieving a sustainable marine economy
- Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society
- Living within environmental limits
- Promoting good governance
- Using sound science responsibility
IFCA Vision “Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities will lead, champion and manage a sustainable marine environment and inshore fisheries, by successfully securing the right balance between social, environmental and economic benefits to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry.”
What does this all mean in practice? This equates to a district of 4,000km2, with 1,100km2 of marine protected areas, uniquely for IFCAs we have two separate coasts and a staff of ten officers with which to bring about effective management. There has to be a high level of pragmatism to the work being undertaken as well as some very effective partnership working.
The main focus of the work for all IFCAs has been management of European Marine Sites within their districts following the change of approach by Defra in October 2012. Through the matrix approach high risk activities are identified and management options are considered and then enacted by the IFCA. November 2013 saw the introduction of the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones and the requirement that the IFCA further the conservation objectives of these sites. The D&SIFCA approach to this challenge has been to introduce a permitting byelaw for towed gear vessels for the whole district and use the permit conditions to introduce restrictions on the most damaging activity from the most sensitive sites. As part of the permit there are plans to introduce a requirement that all mobile permitted vessels will have to have inshore vessel monitoring systems fitted (iVMS) this will greatly increase the effectiveness of the byelaw and protection of the marine protected areas. It will also allow for adaptive management of the whole district.
The D&SIFCA are also working to improve local shellfisheries and their management through the introduction of new permitting byelaws, using a similar model to the mobile gear permits. The permits are also required by recreational fishermen, this will enable the D&SIFCA to monitor all activity in the district to aid protection of this valuable fishery for the future.The third strand of work being undertaken by D&SIFCA is to help improve the local area for recreational sea anglers. The recent Angling 2012 Report showed the value of angling to the local economy and as a result of this D&SIFCA has set out three areas within the district where work will be undertaken to improve the fishery for anglers by restricting some commercial activity.