Communications and engagement
Given the wide range of groups that exist in the fisheries sector, and with an interest in fisheries, it is sometimes difficult to include all fisheries stakeholders in our direct decision making structures. In this, we recognise the important role that representative bodies can play in engaging at a local level and also the role that our coastal offices can play in reaching a wide section of the fishing community. Where we need broader input to shape our direction, we will consult widely and comprehensively to gather views from across the stakeholder and public spectrum, although there will be times where quick management decisions are needed and where this won't always be possible.
To support this we will also take steps to streamline and improve the way in which we communicate and engage with stakeholders. Fisheries management can often be fast-moving, with decisions taken at pace, particularly around the setting of fishing opportunities and end year international negotiations. This can sometimes make communication and engagement challenging. But if we make full and better use of modern technology, for example through social media, we can effectively and regularly keep interested parties involved and informed about decisions which affect them. We will test a variety of approaches on this and seek feedback as to their effectiveness, evolving our approach as new techniques and technologies become available.
On an annual basis we will publish a comprehensive communications and engagement plan, setting out the key decision points on different policies, and when and how we will engage with stakeholders on specific issues. We will include improvements to our online presence as part of this, providing an easy and accessible way for stakeholders to get the information they need.
The fisheries year follows an established rhythm, based around the production of scientific advice and the setting of agreed Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels designed to deliver sustainable fishing activity. Stakeholder engagement is built in throughout this annual process and in the future many of our objectives will necessarily be closely aligned to our Future Catching Policy which will integrate decisions on technical and spatial management measures into the process.
A year in the life of fisheries will broadly follow the following pattern:
- ICES issues advice
- Extensive stakeholder engagement process throughout autumn to hear views and priority issues. Where required our co-management groups will additionally work to consider the need for further technical and spatial measures in response to stock specific advice. Scottish and UK positions developed on appropriate TAC levels are formed
- International negotiations both bi-lateral and multi-lateral take place seeking to agree TACs, sharing arrangements, access and management measures
- UK quota is allocated between UK Fisheries Administrations
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