Management of Marine Protected Areas

 A number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are found within the Southern IFCA District, including European Marine Sites (EMS) comprising Special Areas of Conservation(SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
 
The Southern IFCA Management of MPAs is divided into two sections:
 
Marine Conservation Zones
European Marine Sites

 

Marine Conservation Zones

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. MCZs protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology in English inshore waters and offshore waters off England, Wales and Northen Ireland.

Under section 154 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) has duties to manage fisheries within MCZs and the Authority must seek to ensure that the conservation objectives of any MCZ in the District are furthered. Marine Conservation Zone Assessments have been completed by the Authority in order to determine whether fishing activities meet the conservation objectives of the first phase MCZs.

Three MCZs currently exist within the Southern IFCA District. In 2013 Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ and Poole Rocks MCZ were designated as part of the first phase of MCZ designation and in January 2016, The Needles MCZ was designated as part of the second phase of designation. A third phase of MCZs will be consulted on in 2017, and designated in 2018. The third phase will aim to complete the UK's contribution to the ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas in the North East Atlantic.

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European Marine Sites

The term European Marine Site (EMS) collectively describes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that are covered by tidal waters and protect some of our most important marine and coastal habitats and species of European importance. Seven European Marine Sites are found within the Southern IFCA District.
 
Under Article 6 of the EU Habitats Directive and Article 4 of the EU Birds Directive, within European Marine Sites inlcuding Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), fisheries regulators are required to ensure that fisheries do not damage, disturb or have an adverse effect on the wildlife or habitats for which the site is legally protected. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as ammended) requires that the IFCA exercise its functions, which are relevant to marine conservation, so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Directives.

Southern IFCA has committed to Defra's Revised Approach, a process of reviewing the impacts of commercial fishing activities upon European Marine Site features. To date this process has followed a risk-prioritised approach. Where activities are found to cause an adverse effect to site features, regardless of intesity, management has been introduced in the form of permanent spatial closure byelaws for bottom towed fishing gears and hand gathering activities.

All remaining fishing activity interactions within European Marine Sites require a site level assessment of their impacts, known as a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). These HRAs have been completed in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive, meeting Article 6(2) responsibilities of the Southern IFCA as a competent Authority. Where it is determined that fishing activities do not meet MPA conservation objectives, additional management is necessary. To date this additional management has resulted in the introduction of additional management for Poole Harbour's shellfish fisheries.

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