Managing fisheries in Marine Protected Areas

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Details of how fisheries are managed in marine protected areas


  1. Documents

In 2012 Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a revised approach to the management of fishing in European marine sites (EMS), bringing fisheries in line with other industries.

Applicable to all UK and non-UK commercial fishing vessels, the revised approach promotes sustainable fisheries, achieving the right balance in reducing environmental impact whilst supporting sustainable growth of this vital industry.

A risk based and phased approach is being taken for inshore sites (within 12 nautical miles (nm). High risk activity (red risk) have been prioritised and management measures introduced.

The impact of fishing activities not categorised as high risk (amber and green) are currently being assessed. Assessments will be completed during 2016 with any necessary management measures and associated byelaws introduced by the end of the year.

Alongside EMSs we are also carrying out assessments for marine conservation zones (MCZs).

EMSs consist of special areas of conservation (SACs) which protect important habitats, and special protection areas (SPAs) which protect rare and vulnerable birds in line with the European Union (EU) Habitats Directive and Birds Directive.

EMSs outside of 12nm are being assessed by Defra. Any management measures for these sites must be adopted by the European Commission, as required by the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

MCZs protect nationally important habitats and species and are designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The first 27 MCZs were designated on 21 November 2013.