In 2018, Eastern IFCA assessed the impact of commercial fisheries on the MCZ. At that time and based on best available evidence, potting was not found to hinder the conservation objectives of the site. However, subsequent evidence emerged in a study conducted by Natural England and the University of Essex which identified a link between the potting fishery and damage to chalk structures. In August 2020, Natural England, in line with its statutory duties as the appropriate nature conservation adviser, provided Eastern IFCA with formal advice on this issue.
The advice indicated that although individual incidents of damage are small, collectively their effect hinders the conservation objectives of the MCZ (the reasons for which the site was designated). Pots that are left in the water for longer periods, particularly if they are lost, were highlighted as being the most damaging. Recognising the importance of the chalk to local fisheries and the limitations of current data on the scale, frequency and causes of the damage done to the chalk by fishing activity, Natural England advised that an Adaptive Risk Management (ARM) approach would be the appropriate way forward, as opposed to an immediate ban on potting in the area. Under this approach, appropriate management measures would be developed through an iterative process over the coming years whereby management and research inform each other in a feedback loop. You can find out more about ARM by clicking through the relevant links on the main MCZ page.
In line with this advice, Eastern IFCA has been working closely with local fishermen, conservationists, Natural England, and broader research partners and stakeholders in a collaborative approach to better understand and mitigate the impacts of potting on the chalk, whilst also seeking to minimise the impacts on local livelihoods.
Keep exploring our MCZ page to find out more about how we are working together with stakeholders to deliver ARM in the MCZ.