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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Seafish launches inshore road map.

MANY inshore fishing areas around the English coast need a lot more work to bring them up to a fully sustainable level, a detailed study has established.

Seafish, the industry authority on seafood, together with the Marine Stewardship Council, has today published its findings from a three-year project.

This has, for the first time, mapped all English inshore fisheries and developed sustainability ‘road maps’ for them to help secure seafood supplies from traditional inshore fleets.

Named Project Inshore and the first exercise of its kind on this scale in the world, the project has produced bespoke reports for each of the English Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs).

It will now enable these inshore fisheries managers to come together to co-ordinate efforts. Project Inshore will also provide an evidence base for IFCAs that do not have sufficient resources to approach funders. Funding support also came from a number of companies and organisations, including Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

Project Inshore was split into three stages. Stage one mapped more than 450 different fisheries within the English inshore sector (out to six nautical miles). Stage two assessed all of the fisheries within each IFCA district, using the MSC standard as a gap analysis tool to score how each fishery was performing. A total of around 50 fisheries were found to be performing at a level that could be considered in the short to medium term to move on to full MSC assessment. The remaining inshore fisheries, however, require a longer term programme of work to get them to perform at this level.

Dr Tom Pickerell, technical director from Seafish and one of Project Inshore’s instigators said: ‘Before we started Project Inshore we knew that for many fisheries there was insufficient information available to determine stock status and ecosystem impacts. ‘These ‘data deficient’ fisheries are a result of limited funding being available to support research into all fisheries, often resulting in a necessary focus on those of most economic importance.

‘This therefore led us fittingly to stage three of the project, which aimed to provide a plan or road map for each IFCA. ‘These plans provide information and guidance for the IFCAs on what to do, and how to do it, to move fisheries towards higher levels of performance, ultimately reaching a standard that could go forward for MSC certification. ‘Once at that level, it would be up to the fishermen themselves whether they wish to attempt certification.’

Claire Pescod, chair of the Project Inshore Advisory Group and fisheries outreach manager from the MSC, said: ‘Project Inshore started with a grand ambition: it was a ground-breaking project using the MSC pre-assessment process as a gap analysis of current management of the English inshore fisheries.

‘The past two and half years’ work, mapping and examining the inshore fleet, culminates in these reports and a publicly available database incorporating a wealth of information. ‘Together, they allow us to use the results to work towards an environmentally sustainable future for English inshore fisheries. ‘I believe there will be a strong legacy from this project, both in the UK and further afield, feeding the results into management to help inform priorities and develop improvements as well as highlighting current best practice.’

Dr Pickerell said: ‘The Project Inshore approach is now being recognised internationally. Seafish has been contacted by organisations in the US interested in the feasibility of the approach in California inshore fisheries and we understand there is interest in repeating Project Inshore in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, so we can see real potential for other bodies and countries to adopt this as a blueprint for their own data-deficient fisheries management.’