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SACN at Conference on Angling and MPAs

Sep 17,2006 SACN

Following an invitation from English Nature, SACN attended and made a presentation to a two day conference on Recreational Sea Angling (RSA) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) arranged by English Nature (the Government’s statutory advisors on nature conservation) in Peterborough.

The conference bought together a wide range of stakeholders including representatives from the main Environmental NGOs, DEFRA, the Environment Agency, Sea Fisheries Committees, fisheries scientists and ecologists, Sea Angling organisations and English Nature.

The purpose of the conference was to explore the impact of MPAs on the Recreational Angling Sector, and vice versa, drawing on knowledge of existing MPAs and exploring the likely issues that might arise in future.

SACN’s Leon Roskilly (who was also representing the National Federation of Sea Anglers Conservation Group at the conference) stressed that MPAs, by providing protection for the Marine Environment in ways that could not be achieved by other methods, could benefit Sea Anglers and the species that anglers are interested in.

However, it is also important to ensure that where restrictions on Recreational Sea Angling are proposed in any form (from restrictions on the angling methods employed to a ban on any form of extractive use), that these are shown to be absolutely necessary, and that all stakeholders, including individual sea anglers that would be impacted by a particular MPA, be included in consultations prior to their development.

Leon said “The concept of MPAs could receive a huge boost from the enthusiastic support of the over 1 million sea anglers who could be amongst those who would benefit from healthier and more productive seas, but unless their views are fully taken into account at an early stage of planning, and the potential benefits of an MPA properly explained, those affected might organise and mount an effective opposition against any restrictions on angling, making the whole process unnecessarily expensive and wasting precious resources that could be better utilised in creating and maintaining beneficial MPAs.”

It was also emphasised that RSA needed to look at some current practices that were harmful to the Marine Environment and fish caught, including angling litter (including those items left on the beach and line and terminal tackle lost in the sea) and fish handling, and develop respect and a responsible attitude amongst anglers towards their use of marine resources. 

The conference proved useful in bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders to discuss the issues that will arise concerning the relationship between Recreational Sea Angling and Marine Protected Areas, in the light of commitments by the UK, both internationally and required by the EU, to establish MPAs in UK waters, and the proposals contained within the current Marine Bill consultation.

With many issues aired, delegates agreed that the conference had been a success and that the next stage should be to await the publication of the Marine Bill proposals before coming together again to examine how best to move forward in a practical way to identify sites and establish MPAs in inshore waters in a way that will offer a ‘Best Value’ return for all the various stakeholders, and the general public as a whole, in protecting our valuable marine heritage.

(See also MPA News )


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