A new paper from jean Luc Solandt and co-workers

Managing marine protected areas in Europe: moving from ‘feature-based’ to ‘whole-site’ management of sites

JLS, MCS ‘Defra has just announced that the effective ‘Fisheries Management in MPAs’ Implementation Group (that emerged from the ‘Revised Approach’) is to be stopped, and replaced with ‘bilateral meetings’. This lessens the accountability of Defra and regulators to deliver MPA management measures to stakeholders, and the opportunity for fishing interest groups and conservationists to meet in a positive working atmosphere. Similarly, the MMO consulted on inshore Vessel Monitoring Scheme (iVMS) about a year ago, without a whisper since. On the face of the iVMS consultation the government said words to the effect that ‘such technology will allow fishers to fish up to conservation features in MPAs’. MCS believes we need iVMS to prevent bottom trawl and scallop dredge activity in any MPA set up to protect the seabed, NOT to permit access.

These developments don’t sit well – some may say are completely contradictory – to effective MPA management, and opportunities for the ecosystem-services of the ocean to recover, both inside and outside MPAs. MCS and scientists from University of Plymouth and Glasgow have called for whole-site management of MPAs in areas that contain sediments, sediment veneers, muds and gravels – in both case studies, scientific evidence has shown the importance of different habitats to fish of commercial value, and regeneration of features outside original ‘feature’ distributions once the pressure (invariably bottom trawling and scallop dredging) is removed.

The conclusion is that if the government is serious about UK MPAs helping to achieve clean, healthy and productive seas, then such fishing activities must be supressed – at least in MPAs. The MCS is not confident that the whole-site approach will be delivered with increasing fishers access to MPAs using iVMS (particularly with bottom trawls), and reducing stakeholder engagement to express such views and scientific evidence. And as the workload of the overly burdened IFCAs increases (with Tranche 3 MCZ management measures to come without any further resource), the system is likely to crack. Worrying times.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, Principal Specialist, Marine Protected Areas, Member, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
Marine Conservation Society   01989 561594 / 07793 118387    www.mcsuk.org

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