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Fisheries and Research

The Research & Policy Team Function

The Southern IFCA Research & Policy Team (RPT) are tasked to facilitate the delivery of the Authorities’ legislative duties, and in doing so, seek to improve the sustainability of marine fisheries and the marine environment, whilst supporting local communities who are reliant upon these resources.

Working under the Chief Officer, the RPT is led by a Deputy Chief Officer, within the team is a Senior Policy Specialist, three IFCOs and three Project Officers.

The RPT have three core functions:

  • Monitoring inshore fisheries;
  • Developing inshore fisheries management interventions;
  • Reviewing fisheries management interventions.

The RPT operate in a consistent and methodical way, for example, where an issue is identified (e.g., compromised sustainability of a specific fishery), a vision will be set for that fishery moving forward, we will seek to gather evidence and begin to evolve and implement management measures (where necessary) based on best available evidence. 

Underpinning all of the work undertaken by the RPT is a data management capability and Geographic Information System (GIS) expertise. GIS enables Southern IFCA to visualise, analyse and interpret data collected in order to better understand trends and relationships on a spatial scale. GIS is a valuable resource which is used by Southern IFCA, for example, to support stakeholder engagement and consultations through the use of visual aids; to represent activity data (fishing effort); to map sensitive habitats and designated MPA features to inform management; to map byelaws and to help with the planning and undertaking of surveys.

As the RPT has increased its capability in the research field through the undertaking of increasingly complex surveys and collection of more data, an increased GIS capability has been essential, providing more detailed analysis and the opportunity to effectively deliver the work the evidence team has been undertaking

Southern IFCA | SIFCA | Oyster Dredge
Southern IFCA | SIFCA | Small Fish Survey Net | cr: Charles WheelerCredit: Charles Wheeler
Southern IFCA | SIFCA | Poole Sieve

Monitoring Inshore Fisheries

Stock Assessments and Surveys

One function of the RPT is to conduct stock assessments and surveys in order to contribute to the IFCAs understanding of the marine environment and fisheries resources therein. This data is used to complement and provide a sound evidence base to aid the Authority in its decision-making process necessary to achieve successful and sustainable management, whilst protecting the marine environment.

Surveys and stock assessments are either gathered on an annual basis to support existing management within the District, whilst others may be undertaken on a more ad hoc basis in order to support a particular evidence need. 

To see the results of the following surveys please click the links to navigate to the relevant page:

Marine Assets

To facilitate in the undertaking of stock assessments and surveys, Southern IFCA seek to work with local fishermen through the chartering of fishing vessels for the purposes of undertaking survey work. This not only utilises local industry knowledge but also provides an important opportunity for stakeholders to play a key part in the collection of evidence for their fisheries.

The Authority also has access to a range of specialist survey equipment including underwater video cameras, side-scan sonar and sediment grabs. In addition to our own assets, Southern IFCA have established Memorandum of Understandings with local and national research institutions, allowing the use of additional survey equipment where necessary.

Southern IFCA has three Fisheries Protection Vessels located across the District. These vessels have a secondary role in survey work, with their main focus aligned with compliance and enforcement objectives. 

Developing Fisheries Management Interventions

Byelaw Making Process

Section 155 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009, describes how Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA) have the power to make byelaws.

  1. For the purposes of performing the duty imposed by section 153 or the duty imposed by section 154, the authority for an IFC district may make byelaws for that district.
  2. Byelaws made under this section must be observed within the district for which they are made.
  3. A byelaw made under this section does not have effect until it is confirmed by the Secretary of State.
  4. The Secretary of State may confirm a byelaw without modification or with such modifications as are agreed to by the IFC authority that made the byelaw.
  5. Before confirming a byelaw, the Secretary of State may cause a local inquiry to be held.

IFCAs are responsible for producing byelaws within their districts, which includes such part of the English inshore region lying six nautical miles from baselines. Byelaws must be compatible with and cannot be less stringent or inconsistent with National or Community legislation.

Policy Documents

In accordance with Section 153(3) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, Defra have issued IFCAs with best practice IFCA Byelaw Guidance. IFCA must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their functions. The guidance outlines best practice for the delivery and implementation of byelaws, which must be based on sound evidence, follow particular decision-making routes and ensure undertaking of appropriate stakeholder consultations.

In addition to the Defra Guidance, Southern IFCA seek to ensure consistency and transparency in the delivery of management interventions and to clarify the stages of complex fisheries management development. The process followed will be specific for individual management interventions and be related to the relevant legislative functions under which the IFCA is operating. The Southern IFCA is increasingly looking to publish Management Intentions Documents as supporting documents for newly developed byelaws to provide clarity of the intention and process which has underpinned a particular management decision. These documents are provided to stakeholders during the Formal Consultation on a byelaw as part of the byelaw package. 

The below infographic provides a guide to the byelaw making process, however not all elements of each stage will be relevant in all cases, the requirement for certain elements being a function of the type of management intervention being developed and the associated legal duties the IFCA is operating under. When developing management interventions in inshore fisheries, the legislative framework which Southern IFCA must operate within is determined by the location of the fishery subject to management consideration, specifically whether the fishery occurs within, adjacent or outside of a Marine Protected Area (MPA).  

Southern IFCA | SIFCA | Byelaw Process Map

Reviewing Fisheries Management Interventions

Following the implementation of a management intervention within the District, Southern IFCA are committed to reviewing the performance of statutory and non-statutory measures to ensure that inshore fisheries management is underpinned by the latest and best available evidence in order to achieve sustainable fisheries management. 

Monitoring of fisheries may take the form of either a Fisheries Management Plan or via a Byelaw and/or Permit Condition Review. Where relevant, fisheries monitoring and/or reviews are undertaken in conjunction with a review of existing HRAs (where relevant) to ensure ongoing compatibility between fishing activities and conservation objectives are achieved.

Byelaw Reviews

IFCA byelaw making guidance states that IFCAs should continually monitor the effectiveness of their byelaws. When they are no longer effective, they should be repealed or modified. Section 158 of the MaCAA makes provision for byelaws to cease to have an effect after a specified period (i.e., a “sunset clause”). Where possible and in line with best practice, IFCA byelaws seek to include either a sunset clause or a specified review point within the conditions of the byelaws.

Permit Condition Reviews 

A Permit Byelaw provides a mechanism under which the introduction of specific measures can be introduced in a permit, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Byelaw.

Having the ability to flexibly manage fishing activities under a Permit Byelaw, enables the Authority to introduce bespoke management as new and improved evidence becomes available and in consultation with permit holders and interested parties. This evidence may include improved knowledge of the impact of an activity covered by the Permit Byelaw, or a better understanding of the status of a stock or of the suitability of a gear type towards harvesting, or to manage the emergence of a new fishery.

At present, Southern IFCA is undergoing the process of developing fisheries management interventions in a number of fisheries. Please visit our Ongoing Reviews and Annual Reviews pages for further details.

Southern IFCA | SIFCA | Permit Byelaw Review Process Map
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