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Marine Science



SW Marine Pioneer project draws to a close. A Marine Pioneer research project in partnership with Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA) and the North Devon Biosphere is drawing to a close after 14 months of work.

Since January 2020, Devon & Severn IFCA has been working with the North Devon Biosphere to produce a series of fisheries research and management plans (FRMPs) for commercial fishing species in the Bristol Channel. These plans include complete reviews of species ecology, fisheries, stock status, management, and threats, and use this combined information to produce a series of recommendations for future research and management of the fisheries.

The plans focus on herring, bass, skates and rays, whelk, and squid. These species were decided as the focus of the plans through early Marine Pioneer work with local fishers, so that this research could lead to benefits for the local inshore fishing industry. Engagement with North Devon and Somerset fishers has been continued throughout the writing of the plans, with fisher input being key in arriving at the research and management recommendations.

The plans were originally designed as an output of the Marine Pioneer programme, a three-year Government project testing new methods of managing the marine environment that began in 2017. However, since then and following the introduction of the Fisheries Act, these fisheries research and management plans have generated interest from Defra and the MMO and may be used to feed further into the management of fisheries now that Britain is no longer part of the European Union.

Because of this interest, Devon & Severn IFCA have been able to expand on this work and are currently planning to write fisheries research and management plans for these species along the south coast of the IFCA District, as well as write new plans for additional commercial species. Fisher engagement will be key to the future success of these plans, so fishers are highly encouraged to engage with the IFCA when contacted in the future to help ensure the effectiveness of the plans in improving inshore fisheries in the long-term.

D&S IFCA says it would like to thank all those involved in the writing of the five fisheries research and management plans, especially North Devon and Somerset fishers, whose input has been invaluable. The D&S IFCA FRMP website page will be updated in the next couple of months and used to display the finished plans.