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DEFRA RSA Sub-Group Minutes - November

Jan 12,2009 SACN


Note of Meeting 18 November 2008


Alison Aitken, MFA
Steve Colclough, Environment Agency
Tim Dapling, Sussex SFC
Richard Ferré, NFSA
Virginia Hall, Defra
Anthony Hynes, Defra
Paul Knight, Salmon and Trout Association (Guest)
John Leballeur, BASS
Matt Mander, Eastern SFC
Clare Mason, Defra
Leon Roskilly, SACN
Mike Smith, Cefas
Helen Stevens, Natural England

David Rowe, NFSA
Chris Venmore

John Leballeur introduced Paul Knight from the Salmon and Trout Association who had been invited to the meeting to contribute his expertise in netting restrictions.

Minutes of previous meeting 12 August 2008

Tim Dapling had further comments on the mullet paper for Cefas.

Action: TD to follow up with Cefas

Recreational mullet fisheries

The National Mullet Club don’t think they can estimate total numbers of recreational anglers fishing for mullet.

Carrying out a field survey to achieve this would also be too expensive for Cefas, who do not have catch and effort data.

Cefas are monitoring mullet, but would need to do a case study to use as a basis for ongoing study.

The Cefas paper on commercial fisheries is ready to publish.

Bass Nursery Areas

Before a full consultation exercise is undertaken, a full cost benefit analysis of sites will need to be undertaken, with a collaborative approach with Cefas.

The EA also pointed out that the Water Framework Directive will offer new science.
Benefits from BNA’s may be difficult to ascertain because BNA’s were brought in at the same time as MLS for bass.

In addition, it is not possible to say conclusively that BNA’s are responsible for increased populations of bass because of the effect of such factors as severe winters and year class (refer to Donovan Kelly’s work).

Climate change

Paul Knight discussed the impact of climate change on bass stocks. In Scotland, for example, there is a by‐catch of bass in mixed stock and in the Pentland Firth, fishermen are now catching commercial quantities of bass.

They are also now found in Norway.

3. BNA Review ��" discussion of results of first stage and next steps

Virginia Hall summarised the responses to the questionnaire which had been sent out as an initial pre‐consultation exercise.

The questionnaire posed questions about protection of bass in the local area, about new areas, enforcement and adult bass protection.

The questionnaire was sent to the MFA, Environment Agency and all SFCs in England.

12 responses were received, not including multiple responses from Environment Agency and two responses from Wales.

A number of sites had been suggested for consideration as new BNAs, put forward mainly by Environment Agency but supported by others in some cases.

It was agreed that next steps would include an Impact Assessment of the proposed new BNAs.

The work for this IA would be carried out between January and March, with sign‐off from Defra’s Chief Economist by April 2009 so the full consultation could then be started in late April.

Action: Defra would work on draft proposals from the responses to the questionnaire and compile a draft impact assessment in consultation with Cefas and economists

BNA Responses

Tim Dapling commented that SFCs and others had put a lot of time into their BNA responses and he would like to see the data in the responses to BNA’s which referred to prosecutions for illegal activity within the BNAs.


It was agreed that communication and education are vital in strengthening the effectiveness of BNAs. From a buyers and sellers point of view, many pubs and restaurants didn’t know they have to purchase fish from licensed vessels.

A poster campaign is a possibility if there is funding available. However it was suggested that it might be best to wait until the BNA Review is complete before introducing a poster campaign.

Richard Ferré suggested that signs are necessary in BNAs.

Eastern SFC has an RSA sub‐committee which has generated a a relatively inexpensive poster providing information on their Bass Nursery Area (s?)

BNA Review ‐ BBC feature on Bass Nursery Areas

John Leballeur brought a DVD of a BBC Southern feature on BNAs, which was shown to the group.

It featured the issue of illegal fishing in the BNA at Langstone Harbour, Hampshire.

t showed boxes of undersize bass being caught illegally.

Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive will apply out to 1 nautical mile, and will involve a more sensitive approach and management regime, with the aim being good ecological status.

Action: Virginia Hall to compile and circulate data on prosecutions in BNAs.

Action: Defra to talk to MFA about putting information on websites about where the BNAs are.

Action: Anthony Hynes suggested that Defra should talk to its lawyers about definitions and restrictions with the essential aim of making the legislation easier to enforce.

5. Spatial Control on netting

Mike Smith gave a presentation to the group summarising the range and extent of controls applying to netting around the English coastline and considering the rationale behind them.

This builds on the Cefas review of spatial controls on fixed netting in England, by updating it and considering encircling nets and controls on trawling that impact inshore areas and species of interest to RSA. Cefas will draft a paper, with input from the EA on controls under their jurisdiction, for further consideration by the subgroup.

6. Summary of Responses on RSA Strategy Consultation

It was reported that the new Minister had now approved the Summary of Responses and it would be published shortly on the Defra website.

7. Revised RSA Strategy ��" comments and discussion

a. RSA Management:

A revised version of the strategy had been circulated to the subgroup. AH explained that the Strategy had been revised to reflect the current position regarding licensing and regarding the Marine Bill and also to take account of comments made during the consultation process.

b. Voluntary measures

Feedback from the consultation had been opposed to Defra’s role in this.

The group agreed with the view that it is best left to stakeholders to manage as they see fit but with Defra promotion and encouragement.

Parallels were drawn with the EA management of freshwater fisheries where the EA work closely with organisations to promote best practice.

Action: RF to draft a short paragraph re: code of practice

c. Access and Development

It was pointed out that Defra had a responsibility to encourage access for anglers, particularly given the access elements of the Marine Bill.

Members of the committee are approaching port authorities who are developing port areas eg London Gateway to make the case for access for anglers.

Action: It was decided to reinsert a reference to the importance of access.

d. Communications

The subgroup acknowledged that there were poor communications across the board.

This section has been rewritten to reflect the consultation responses, putting responsibility on all of the committee to improve communications with the sector.

Action: Attendees to write to AH with any further changes, within 2 weeks of the meeting (2nd December).

e. Next stage

Aim is to have strategy signed off at next IFWG meeting.

8. European Commission plans on RSA (technical measure)

Sackey Bennin joined the group to present an update on the European Commission proposals for a Technical Conservation Regulation.

There has been quite a lot of feedback from member states to the proposals.

Defra have said that in principal it supports the Commission proposals but say that some aspects go too far but has told the Commission that they are not convinced by the conservation value of a ban on spearfishing.

The Commission press office has responded direct to anglers that it was not the Commission’s intention to ban spearfishing.

The proposals involved the loss of MLS for 13 from an original list of 36 species.

The UK and a number of other member states have queried this.

The French presidency had hoped that proposals would be agreed at December Council but this is unlikely and Spring 2009 seemed a more realistic date.

Control Regulation Proposal

It was reported that the Commission had recently issued proposals relating to control and enforcement which included a proposal that recreational vessels catching stocks subject to multiannual plan (which includes some species taken by RSA) need to be authorised by a member state, and catches will need to be recorded and counted against the member state’s quota.

It was agreed that this would have significant implications for recreational sea angling .

It was noted that it would be important to understand how the Commission was defining recreational sea angling.

The proposal would be consulted on by Defra and negotiations would begin in the New Year.

The Group would need to return to this issue at a future meeting.

Action: AH to circulate a link to the proposal.

9. AOB

The Angling Trust

RF described the formation of The Angling Trust, which is trying to unify the voice of angling. It is composed of:

Angler’s Conservation Association (ACA)

Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT)

National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA)

National Federation of Anglers

Specialist Anglers Alliance

National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives (NAFAC)

The Salmon and Trout Association were not members due to their charitable status.
To begin with, the organisation will focus on membership numbers and growth, but it will also provide benefits to members including legal services.

Fisheries Challenge Fund Restricted Areas Project

Kent and Essex have written to Defra requesting a meeting, this is likely to take place in January or possibly February 2009.

Date of Next Meeting

It was agreed that this should take place towards the end January 2009.
Action: VH to circulate provisional dates.


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