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Commercial Fishing



 Low Impact Fishing Project

The Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) is working with the New Economics Foundation (NEF)MRAG and Cefas on a project for Defra that is seeking to co-design, with fisheries stakeholders, principles and criteria that can be used to define low impact fishing.

In line with Defra’s support for sustainable fisheries, the project builds on the commitment in the Sustainable fisheries for future generations White Paper (2018) to “consider new criteria to define low impact inshore fishing vessels to replace the current ‘under 10 metre’ category”. What constitutes ‘low impact’ is not currently well defined and therefore there is a need to identify objective, transparent and workable criteria. Similarly, the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan envisions management that “…accounts for, and seeks to minimise, impacts on non-commercial species and the marine environment generally”. Alongside this, the White Paper also seeks to further integrate recreational sea angling within the new fisheries framework — impacts associated with recreational sea angling will be considered as part of the project.

Through a series of consensus building deliberative workshops (in Eastbourne, Brixham and North Shields) and a final symposium, the project will explore and document the various factors that could define low impact fisheries and identify how plans for reducing impacts of commercial and recreational fishing could be produced and updated. The goal will be to create together (a) a framework of stakeholder-agreed principles for low impact fishing; and (b) provide recommendations for how they can inform policy development to achieve the ambitions set out in the Fisheries White Paper and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

As Dr Julie Urquhart of CCRI comments, “It is vitally important to work with fishing and angling stakeholders at the early stages of developing any potential  definition for low impact fishing. Fishers, for one,  know their job and the environment in which they work better than anyone, so any criteria for measuring low impact needs to be relevant, achievable, have benefits for fishers, such as improved market prices, and be agreed through consensus-building between fishing stakeholders and policy makers.”

The project is led by Chris Williams from NEF.