What is the “Revised Approach”
In 2012 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a wholescale review of the management of fishing in European Marine Sites (EMS). The objective is to ensure that all existing and potential commercial fishing activities are managed in accordance with the requirements of Habitats Directive. This balances sustainable fisheries with conserving the marine environment, securing a sustainable future for both. It is applicable to all UK and non-UK commercial fishing vessels.
In line with this revised approach (previously known as article 6 project), IFCAs, the Marine Management Organisation and Defra are systematically assessing commercial fisheries in relation to impacts on the features of designated sites. This work is underpinned by conservation advice from the statutory nature conservation advisors, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The assessments consider the nature, scale and frequency of fishing activities alongside the sensitivity and recoverability of site features, in order to determine whether damage or disturbance is occurring at unacceptable levels (referred to as “adverse effect on site integrity”). Fishing restrictions are implemented to reduce impacts where adverse effects are found. Restrictions can be voluntary agreements, fishing licence or permitting conditions or fisheries byelaws. In order to ensure good progress with the management of fisheries in marine protected areas, Defra has stipulated that any measures required must be in place by the end of 2016 (end of 2017 for Tranche 2 Marine Conservation Zones such as Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds).
Eastern IFCA has considered the potential for impacts from different types of commercial fishing on each protected habitat and species (the features) within all European Marine Sites (EMS) in our district, and the single Marine Conservation Zone in the Eastern IFCA district ( a Tranche 2 site) will be assessed during 2016. Management actions have been prioritised according to the identified risks.
Activity/feature interactions identified as having the highest risk were considered first. Management measures were required to avoid the deterioration of three protected features (Sabellaria spinulosa or Ross worm reef, boulder & cobble or stony reef, Zostera or seagrass beds) in line with obligations under the Habitats Directive. Eastern IFCA met these requirements through the development of the Eastern IFCA Protected Areas Byelaw
Activity/feature interactions identified as a medium or low risk required a site-level assessment to determine whether management is required. These assessments included consideration of other activities (plans and projects) that could contribute to impacts.