For the discussion on inshore, there was acknowledgement from stakeholders that considerable work is already underway. There was positive support for our proposals to strengthen local management with Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) taking on a more formal role in decision-making and an expansion of their scope to 12 nautical miles (nm). There was also a strong steer from respondents that although the RIFG network is the appropriate vehicle to manage local fisheries areas within 12nm, they require further development of capabilities before this can be realised – this was particularly the case with carrying out quota management functions.
Going forward, we believe that, with our support, RIFGs can become the main vehicle for delivering our vision for local management that is strong, resilient and capable of evidence based decision making. This will be the driver, in parallel with the improved data set we will amass on inshore fishing activity (through the Modernisation Programme), to help improve interaction between inshore fishing and other marine users, and help address issues such as gear conflict and creel capacity.
To support improvements to the management of inshore fisheries, there is merit in exploring the idea of introducing new licence conditions and we will undertake further work in 2021 to deliver this.
The issue of separation between mobile and static activity in some geographical areas caused considerable division amongst stakeholders, with some welcoming the idea of spatial management within inshore waters, and others strongly against it. Building on the work being undertaken as part of inshore pilots on local management, effort controls, and separation of mobile and static gear, we will use learning from these pilots to develop a coherent joined up approach. We will also begin to explore the potential to protect nursery areas and areas where there are juvenile fish, potentially through seasonal activities.
Separately we will introduce revised management rules in relation to the operation of Gill net and Long Line fisheries in our waters to better facilitate close working between static and mobile sectors. These measures will be set out in our future catching policy.