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RSA Strategy Update - August 2008

Aug 19,2008 SACN

Since the closure of the Consultation on the proposed RSA Strategy at the end of March, a further meeting of the RSA Strategy Sub Group of DEFRA's Inshore Working Group (itself a subgroup of DEFRA's Marine Stakeholders Forum), took place in May to discuss taking forward some of the current proposed intitiatives ahead of the result of the consultation.

The minutes of the May meeting have now been agreed and cleared for release, and are reproduced below.

A Draft Summary of Responses to the consultation was produced to be considered by the RSA Strategy Sub Group which met again in August, to discuss progress on the various initiatives and to consider the Draft Summary of Responses.

The minutes of that meeting have also been cleared for circulation and are reproduced below.

The Draft Summary of Responses to the consultation will be further amended and be put before the Minister before being released as the official Final Summary of Responses to the consultation on the DEFRA website.

The RSA Strategy itself will also be updated and presented to the Minister for approval before being adopted and published.


Inshore Fisheries Working Group ��"
Recreational Sea Angling Sub-group Meeting

Friday 30th May

9 Millbank , London

Aim of meeting

To consider scientific reports from Cefas relating to bass nursery areas, inshore netting and mullet fisheries and agree an action plan for the way forward.


Alexis Raichoudhury (Defra)
Alison Aitken (MFA)
Alistair McDonnell (MFA)
Anthony Hynes (Defra)
Dave Rigden (The National Mullet Club)
David Rowe (NFSA)
James Acord (Defra)
John Leballeur (BASS)
Leon Roskilly (SACN)
Mike Smith (Cefas)
Robert Blyth-Skyrme (NE)
Steve Colclough (EA)
Tim Dapling (Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee)
Virginia Hall (Defra)

Mat Mander (Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee)

1. Introductions and apologies.

2. Updates

a. RSA Strategy

It was generally agreed that communication of the Strategy document had presented difficulties, particularly in targeting individual anglers not represented by associations.

This could be achieved through identification of local angling clubs, or by utilisation of magazine or website advertising.

Also, the possibility of involving tackle shops and the wider tackle trade in the RSA process was discussed.

Action (Defra): Invite a tackle industry representative to the next RSA sub-group meeting.

Action (Defra): Publish the responses to the Strategy. The target date for publication is late June.

b. Fisheries Challenge Fund project

The Fisheries Challenge Fund will be a stakeholder-led project, with Defra funding for 2.5 years.

The Blackwater and Exe estuaries are currently being considered as experimental protected areas.

The group questioned what the criteria for site identification are.

These details will be included in the Phase 1 Report, to be completed by Cefas shortly.

Action (Cefas/Defra): Circulate the Phase 1 Report to the group when completed.

There appeared to be some confusion on the dual roles of the MCZ and SAC designation processes.

SAC designation is top down process, based around science. MCZs should also be based on science but with stakeholder involvement throughout.

The group showed enthusiasm for feeding into the decision-making process, and in particular in identifying fisheries benefits.

Action: To be discussed in the future.

d. Change from SFCs to IFCAs

The planned change from SFCs to IFCAs could have significant impacts on enforcement, particularly as the updating of management tools or byelaws are resource-intensive.

Action: To monitor developments.

3. Review of Bass Nursery Areas

Cefas provided a historical review of Bass around the UK, which indicated that recruitment for Bass is improving, and that geographical boundaries of the Bass’ range is likely to continue to expand, in response to warmer water, and improved management of stocks (Note revised wording of this text agreed at August meeting).

It was suggested that these management practices should be reviewed in light of changing environmental conditions.

BASS suggested that the existing BNAs should be made year-round, and restrictions introduced to stop people targeting mullet and gilthead sea bream, which may also benefit from the restrictions, and which could be used as an excuse to target bass.

BASS raised concern over the effects of sandeeling activity upon the food availability for bass.

MFA queried whether we need to stop people catching legal-sized bass inside BNAs.

But whilst there may be no stock reason to prevent targeting of large bass, the intention is to protect small bass.

Illegal targeting could be carried out under guise of other activities.

Action: Identify how many prosecutions have been made against people under the BNA legislation? If these numbers are very low, why is this the case? Group to consider the reasons for failure to prosecute or failure to succeed in prosecution, and whether there would be benefit in tightening up regulations, etc.

4. Spatial Control on Netting

Concern was raised over drift netting.

Sometimes these are being used inshore in a way that turns them into fixed engines- more careful application of byelaws needed?

o Questions over who can use what gears where, and how to enforce.
o Does gear need to be marked more clearly?
o Issues of catching lots of fish for ‘personal use’.
o Salmonid and other species bycatch- an issue in some areas.

Action (Defra): To distribute the draft questionnaire on BNAs and netting regulations to EA and SFCs to review, prior to publication of the Cefas reports on the Defra website.

5. Review of Mullet Fisheries

Cefas presented a draft review of Mullet fisheries.

The National Mullet Club made a number of comments, and circulated a document with their appraisal of the review to the group.

In particular, The Mullet Club reports that there has been a 30% decline in stocks over 20 years, and in the average size of mullet (although this is anecdotal evidence).

The NMC also expressed concern that the document talks about RSA when the brief was to review commercial fisheries.

Action (Cefas): To consider the NMC comments, and respond or redraft as appropriate.    


Inshore Fisheries Working Group ��"
Recreational Sea Angling Sub-group Meeting

Tuesday 12 August 11am

Room LG01 Ergon House, London

Aim of meeting
 To consider bass nursery area questionnaire, RSA strategy consultation summary, finalise various scientific reports from Cefas and agree way forward.

Alison Aitken (MFA)
Anthony Hynes (Defra)
Rebecca Dominey (Defra)
David Rowe (NFSA)
John Leballeur (BASS)
Leon Roskilly (SACN)
Mike Smith (Cefas)
Robert Blyth-Skyrme (NE)
Steve Colclough (EA)
Tim Dapling (Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee)
Matt Mander (Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee)

Dave Rigden (The National Mullet Club)
Richard Ferre (NFSA)
Alexis Raichoudhury (Defra)
Alistair McDonnell (MFA)

1. Introductions and apologies.

2. To agree minutes of previous meeting on 30 May (including consideration of comments received) and matters arising.


a. Review Bass Nursery Areas

Revised first para agreed as follows:
“Cefas provided a historical review of bass around the UK, which indicated that the geographical distribution of bass has expanded and is likely to continue to do so, and that recruitment was strong through the 1990s and early 2000s.

These benefits were considered to be in response to warming winter water temperatures and increased protection for bass provided by the bass conservation (nursery) areas.

However, some recent pre-recruit surveys suggest that recruitment has
declined from the high 1990 levels in some areas of the UK south coast”

Actions/Matter Arising

b. RSA Strategy

An email was sent to Sean O‟Driscoll to invite a tackle industry representative to the next RSA meeting.

As yet no reply has been received.

It was suggested that Bruno Broughton also be contacted.

c. Fisheries Challenge Fund Project

The Phase 1 report has been completed and is currently with Defra for consideration before publication.

d. Technical Conservation Regulations

A review of the EU technical conservation regulations was underway.

Negotiations will start in the autumn.

In response to a Defra consultation on the proposals, the NFSA have commented on the paper and are happy to circulate.

It was noted that it was the intention of the Commission that the new regulations applied to recreational activity.

It was agreed that there needs to be a better definition of the term recreational activity and a clearer explanation of how the regulations would apply to this activity.

The proposed regulations ban spear fishing completely. British Spear fishermen are currently lobbying on this point.

Action (Defra) ��" 1. More substantive discussion at next meeting with Defra lead invited to attend

2. Recirculate link to Cefas report on recreational fishing across


3. Review of Bass Nursery Areas

Defra had circulated a draft questionnaire to the group for their views.

The group suggested the following changes;
 a more detailed description of the legislation applicable within Bass Nursery should be added to the beginning of the document
 a better description of the Fisheries Challenge Fund in the covering letter
 add key reasons to the review
 explain why further protection is needed
 include netting issues (definition of fixed engines, mesh sizes)
 More explicit reference to bag limits

It was agreed that one month would be sufficient for SFCs and others to compile and submit questionnaire responses (i.e. by end of September).

Action (all) ��" Further amendments and suggestions to the draft questionnaire requested by 22 August.

4. Spatial Control on Netting

The paper was discussed in detail at the last meeting.

EA and Cefas had also considered further subsequent to the meeting. The paper had been revised to incorporate EA comments.

The group was reminded of ministerial commitments to a review of inshore netting.

It was considered that reformed IFCAs would be in a better position to reflect on the report‟s finding and consider new byelaws once new powers to manage on socio-economic grounds were available.

In advance of that, it was considered unlikely that any major changes would take place.

In the meantime, it was agreed that the scope of the paper should be extended to cover drift nets.

It was highlighted that a pamphlet containing definitions for all netting material is available (Circulated following the meeting via email by SACN).
http://www.marlab.ac.uk/FRS.Web/Uploads/Documents/Fishing Gear.pdf

Action ��" EA/Cefas to discuss and agree timing for revisions to the report to cover drift netting restrictions. Further discussions at next meeting.

5. Review of Mullet Fisheries

Cefas provided a response to the NMC and circulated a revised copy of the review of Mullet fisheries.

An email from the NMC was circulated to the group concerning the revised report.

It was noted that Mullet fisheries are a key part of the nursery areas review and the revised report should therefore be attached as an annex to the questionnaire.

The EA are able to provide information regarding juvenile mullet.

Cefas are able to set up log books for Mullet catches, although it is too late to implement funding for this year but it could be up and running for next year.

Action (Sussex SFC) ��" Further comments to Cefas.
Action (Defra) ��" Annex to Bass paper and publish.

6. RSA Strategy

Defra would like to publish the summary of responses to the strategy as soon as possible.

Although there has been a lack of explicit support for the strategy, the value of a framework for RSA work was discussed.

The group highlighted the following points in relation to the strategy;
 RSA sector no longer believe Defra can deliver anything of benefit, in view of bass MLS decision
 Licensing issue had clouded consideration of the strategy
 Communications with wider group of anglers a key issue
 Defra still viewed as doing more to help commercial fishing
 More emphasis on IFCA‟s for inshore conservation management
 Less emphasis on facilities, access and code of conduct
 Improve drafting for „public consumption‟
 Ministerial foreword

Action (Defra) ��" 1. Further comments invited by 22 August, summary then to be

2. Defra to re-draft the strategy for debate at the next

7. Agree next date of meeting

1st/2nd week of October, date and location to be confirmed, subject to timing of next IFWG.


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comment Comments (1 posted) 
  • 30% decline in mullet stocks, i suggest the mullet club have a peak in weymouth harbour, they are like a disease, never seen so many. The penny drops regarding the value of defra to the rsa at last, jobs for the boys and no other benifits, ties in nicely with the comment of clouded licence issue, a polite way of saying, thanks but no thanks defra. Less emphasis on facilities, got that one correct as well, bogs and carparks, no thanks. Improved drafting, another polite way of saying that they must do better in putting it in laymens terms for the ordinaries to understand. Just my interpretations by the way.
(Posted on August 21, 2008, 6:41 am barry luxton)

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