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Transformed SFCs to be responsible for Angling

Mar 17,2007 SACN

The Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) within England and Wales regulate and carry out enforcement of inshore waters in their district out to 6 miles.

They are able to introduce byelaws for the purpose of conservation and although their remit is to manage the fisheries for the benefit of all stakeholders, they have been traditionally dominated by commercial fishing interests who are unwilling to accept conservation measures that will have an impact on fishermen.

Heavily criticised for bias in the Josh Eagle report, anglers appointed to SFCs have sometimes experienced difficulties in representing the interests of Recreational Sea Anglers, and in proposals for developing Recreational Sea Fisheries.

And with proposals in the Recreational Sea Angling Strategy (currently being developed by DEFRA together with various stakeholder groups) that SFCs will be instrumental in developing Recreational Sea Fisheries and delivering benefits to the Recreational Sea Angling (RSA) Sector, as well as regulating and carrying out enforcement of RSA activity, their have been concerns expressed by anglers that SFCs are too biased to do the job required.  

Partly as a result of representations made by RSA organisations during previous consultations, the government have looked closely at the purpose and organisation of SFCs, and have made proposals in the white paper for the Marine Bill for radical reform of SFCs, both in their purpose and organisation.

(Details are largely contained in section 7 of the Marine Bill White Paper)

In determining that the SFCs are to be given a clear purpose and duties, the white paper states:

“We intend the core purpose of SFCs to be the sustainable management of fish stocks in the marine environment through an ecosystem-based approach.

Their focus will remain firmly on fisheries activities and their impact on the marine ecosystem. In particular, SFCs should:

• sustainably manage fisheries impacts on marine ecosystems, having due regard to a precautionary approach;

• maintain and, where necessary, actively contribute to the rebuilding of living aquatic resources and their supporting ecosystems, thereby enabling sustainable exploitation; and

• optimise the social and economic benefits”

Anglers will also find specific proposals regarding how SFCs will regulate the RSA sector within the white paper.


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