News story

Defra consultations relevant to the work of the MMO

Defra is running a number of consultations relevant to the work of the MMO, on fisheries, marine licensing and conservation.

Details of all Defra consultations and related documents are published on an external website.

Reducing unused licences (latent capacity) in the English 10 metre and under fishing sector

Defra are seeking views on the current levels of latent capacity as part of their work to make the English inshore fleet more sustainable.

Latent capacity means the number of licences issued to allow fishing for quota species, which are not used. It also describes licences issued and used to catch 300kg quota species or less a year. The term is also used for rights (entitlements) to catch shellfish, which are not currently used. Defra would also like your views on how to reduce latent capacity to help to solve any problems.

** This consultation closed on 31 March 2015. **

Marine Conservation Zones

Defra has also launched a consultation on the second tranche of sites to be considered as marine conservation zones (MCZs). 23 sites are proposed for designation as MCZs with additional features for conservation proposed for 10 existing sites.

This closes on 24 April 2015.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Defra is also consulting on its plans to implement the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in the UK.

Other proposals listed on this page, Marine Conservation Zones and the demersal landing obligation, aim to contribute towards achieving Good Environmental Status in our seas under the MSFD.

This closes on 24 April 2015.

Demersal landing obligation

The demersal landing obligation is a ban on the discarding of fish. This prevents fish being thrown back into the sea after being caught, except when subject to specific exemptions . In particular, Defra is seeking views on five key areas of implementation including:

  • phasing in of the landing obligation
  • quota management
  • access to exemptions
  • catch management
  • monitoring and enforcement

The consultation results will inform the Government’s policy position and negotiations with other Member States in the regional groups. These regional groups operate across our shared fisheries to ensure that the rules being applied are appropriate, fair and effective for all fishermen. The regional groups are due to submit demersal Discard Plans by June 2015 to the European Commission.

** This consultation closed on 31 March 2015. **

Marine licensing: changing how some cases are decided

The consultation covers proposals for a change to marine licensing as operated by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The proposal is to introduce a mechanism whereby the Secretary of State can recover certain, complex marine licence decisions for her own determination.

The proposals would allow local planning authorities and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA) to seek an independent inquiry into certain complex cases. The final decision would be taken by ministers who are directly accountable to Parliament.

The change is expected to only apply to a limited number of cases that meet specified criteria. The draft criteria are:

The Secretary of State may recover a marine licence application for her own determination where she is satisfied that the application falls into either of the following categories:

1) The application is one where the MMO has received a formal representation from an LPA or IFCA affected by the proposal seeking determination by the Secretary of State and:

  • the activity falls into band 3 of the Marine Licensing (Application Fees) Regulations 2014 (as amended) – i.e. the more complex cases such as construction projects over £1m or projects requiring an environmental impact assessment or an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Regulations, or dredge disposal operations

  • the activity is taking place wholly or partly within the 6 nautical mile limit

  • the potential effects of the decision are significant and could benefit from examination in public

or

2) The application includes a novel activity that raises wider issues of national significance not covered by the UK Marine Policy Statement or other relevant marine planning documents, and could benefit from examination in public.

This consultation applies to English waters and the offshore areas of Wales and Northern Ireland where the Secretary of State is the licensing authority.

** This consultation closed on 25 February 2015. **