On 1st September, Defra published a policy paper on Fisheries Management Plans for England. The Defra note stated:

The draft joint fisheries statement listed 43 proposed FMPs. Some will be developed jointly by 2 or more fisheries policy authorities, whilst others will be developed by an authority for its own waters. The Joint Fisheries Statement will set out the list of agreed plans when it is published in November 2022. This will include details of the stocks covered, the authorities involved and their timetable for preparation and publication.

What the plans are

FMPs will be evidence-based action plans, developed in collaboration with the fishing sector and other stakeholders. Their purpose is to deliver sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.

Each FMP will specify the stocks, type of fishing and the geographic area covered, as well as the authority or authorities responsible and indicators to be used for monitoring the effectiveness of the plan. FMPs will vary in their content and format because our fisheries range from stocks whose management is well understood, to complex mixed fisheries with many stocks in whole sea areas.

How the plans work

Each FMP will set out goals and the actions needed for their achievement. The precise mechanisms needed will depend on the goals set out in the plan. Defra (and the other national fisheries authorities) must then take the actions set out in plan. FMPs could draw upon existing tools, require new regulations or technical measures, or use non-statutory routes such as research plans, voluntary agreements and codes of conduct.

After publication, each plan will remain a live document that will be monitored, reviewed, and adapted as needed. Management actions must be adapted and updated when necessary to ensure the FMP meets its goals.

Preparing the plans

Defra is responsible for preparing plans, but will work collaboratively with delivery partners and the fishing sector to develop FMPs. We will also work with other marine industries, policy makers, scientists and environment groups when preparing FMPs. This approach represents a significant shift in our fisheries management towards greater participation and collaboration with stakeholders.

Publishing the plans

Once drafted, FMPs must go through a public consultation, giving all interested parties the opportunity to give their views. Once finalised, for FMPs relevant to English waters, Defra will then seek approval from the Secretary of State to publish the FMP (although for FMPs produced jointly with other fisheries policy authorities, Defra will act jointly with the other relevant authority to publish the document).

Planned publication dates will be set out in the Joint Fisheries Statement (to be published in November 2022).

The full Defra policy paper can be read here.

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