CAG Consultants has been commissioned by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) to work alongside NFFO, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England, the Marine Management Organisation and Bangor University on a two-year project exploring participatory processes for establishing, evaluating and adapting fisheries in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
CAG Consultants will lead the stakeholder engagement element of developing and trialling a framework and tools to deliver a participatory approach to managing fishing activity in MPAs, ensuring fair and effective management. The project will bring together the fishing sector, regulators, scientific advisors, conservation bodies and academic researchers to explore the challenges of managing sedimentary habitats in MPAs, and use key case studies to aid the development of a management toolkit which can be applied to other MPAs.
Fisheries provide a significant source of food for the UK and provide employment for coastal communities. However, detailed information on the effect of fishing on some seabed habitats (such as sandy or gravelly sediments) is limited. This affects our ability to make appropriate management decisions, which can potentially compromise livelihoods as well as conservation goals. In the face of this uncertainty, fisheries managers have applied precaution in their approach to management measures to ensure seabed protection. However, there is also a desire for management to allow continued sustainable use of marine resources within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) where this is compatible with conservation goals.
It is crucial that stakeholders are effectively engaged in management decisions in order to improve awareness and support for MPAs and ensure effective management plans. CAG Consultants will facilitate the exploration of the issues in a collaborative environment aiming to build consensus and improve awareness of the cultural and economic significance of the fishing industry, and the value of protecting marine biodiversity.
The two-year project is being funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).