Fishing Focus Winter 2013/14

Managing commercial fishing

Natural England, JNCC, MMO and IFCA have jointly produced a risk matrix which sets a timetable to introduce management measures to protect SAC’s and SPA’s

By the end of 2013 the MMO and IFCAs had nine byelaws in place protecting sites . They expect to confirm seven more by 31 March 2014 so that all the sites where commercial fishing activities were rated as high risk of damaging sensitive features will have management measures in place. All sites should have appropriate protection by December 2016.

As marine planning for the South continues, a range of information is being gathered on fishing to make sure the industry is fully represented. A revised version of the South Plans Analytical

Report (SPAR) will be published soon. Reports on fishing along the South coast of England  have also now been published by the MMO. They cover future trends in fishing, the potential for aquaculture and identifying essential fish habitats, and will ensure fishing is fully considered in the South marine plans.




Minister George Eustice says “ It is essential that the right management measures are designed and put in place for MCZs”. He recognises the value of the local advice received from IFCA.


IFCA are preparing to consult on the further round of MCZs at start of 2015.


Common Fisheries Policy

The reformation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Market Organisation (CMO) was successfully concluded in December 2013, with new regulations entering into force on 1 January 2014.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EFF) aims to help the fishing industry to become more sustainable and to remain profitable. Through this scheme around £38 million is available in England and will, as a package, represent significant positive change to the way our fisheries are managed.

A number of the measures and processes contained within the reform are now in force. These include the new legal obligation to ensure that fishing rates are set at levels that restore and maintain populations of harvested species above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), as well as provisions on regionalisation that enable member states to co-operate on the design of fisheries management measures.


MMO publishes Sea Angling Survey

The summary of the report published by the MMO states

“The surveys estimated there are 884,000 sea anglers in England, with 2% of all adults going sea angling. These anglers make a significant contribution to the economy – in 2012, sea anglers resident in England spent £1.23 billion on the sport, equivalent to £831 million direct spend once imports and taxes had been excluded. This supported 10,400 full-time equivalent jobs and almost £360 million of gross value added (GVA). Taking indirect and induced effects into account, sea angling supported £2.1 billion of total spending, a total of over 23,600 jobs, and almost £980 million of GVA.”

These are big numbers. Unfortunately, the data is not regionalised, so it is difficult to estimate the proportion attributable to the Solent. Just less than a quarter of the sea angling launches in England operate from the South Coast between Anvil Point and Eastbourne.

DEFRA and MMO Marine Fisheries newsletter – Autumn 2013.

Fisheries Focus – Autumn 2013

The DEFRA and MMO Marine Fisheries newsletter – Autumn 2013.

The following summary comments were prepared by Bob Stevenson, a member of the SPS Council

Sea Angling 2012 Project.

This is the largest assessment yet of catch levels and the economic and social values of recreational sea angling. Information has been collected from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, the MMO and Individual Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities. The report which is be published at the end of November will be found:

see also Fisheries evidence to shape marine planning:

see also Commercial fishing statistics:


Triennial Review of the MMO.

September saw the launch of the Triennial Review of the MMO (set up in 2010). This review examines the MMO ‘s functions, its governance arrangements and whether other delivery models would be more appropriate. Does the MMO offer value for money and is it fit for purpose?

Conclusions will be announced in early 2014.


MCZ designations awaited “soon”.


Micro-plastics in the English Channel

DEFRA, with neighbouring European and local authorities, is funding research to assess the risks and effects of micro-plastics in the English Channel.


Common Fisheries Policy

The new Common Fisheries Policy regulation is close to being ratified by the European Union in time for 2014. On 30th October the European Commission released proposals for 2014 Total Allowable Catches and quotas for those stocks in EU waters and for EU vessels in certain non-EU waters.


Bob Stevenson.





Fishing in European Marine Sites a revised approach

Off the Coast of Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight there are 7 European Marine Sites designated to protect and improve some of Europe’s most important habitats and species. These sites form part of the vibrant ecologically important coastal waters of the Southern IFCA District and support the commercial and recreational fisheries which are important contributors to the local economy.

Southern IFCA is required to introduce local management measures to prevent damage to the most sensitive features within District waters
Restrictions are likely to spread to other acivities,so this could be indicative of future management measures in the MCZ areas too.
Click here for more from the IFCA newsletter, and scroll down to ‘Spotlight on’

Solent Salmon Watch – guest blog

This is a guest blog by Tim Sykes,EA Fisheries & Biodiversity Team Leader. The views expressed are his and have not been edited.

Beneath the Solent’s waves primal urges are taking place in our migratory salmonids : Sea Trout and Salmon are on the move. To some people that is an awesome wildlife spectacle whilst others will wistfully dream of warm dusky evenings angling. But others are intent on cashing-in by illegally harvesting these fish, using any means possible, and selling them on the black-market.

A high priority for the Environment Agency is to conserve the local stocks of wild Salmon and Sea Trout, including tackling poaching, and you can play a part.

Salmon eggs hatch in May and the juveniles spend just one year in freshwater before migrating to the sea, the following spring. They migrate to Iceland and Greenland, putting on weight at an astonishing rate whilst covering about 50km a day! After one or two years they return to their home rivers , congregating in our estuaries in the spring and spending much of the summer in the lower reaches of the rivers before spawning near Christmas. At the time of writing (mid-May) Sea Trout are returning to all our Solent estuaries whilst the rarer Salmon are heading towards the Test and Itchen estuaries.

EA photos

Photo : Year-old Salmon smolt. Romsey 2013. Credit : Adrian Fewings

Whilst in the estuaries Salmon are legally protected from exploitation but where there’s a will there’s always a way, and poaching is locally common.

Traditional romantic notions of poachers taking ‘one for the pot’ are outdated and increasingly the activity is driven by personal commercial gain. A 20lbs Salmon, like the one caught illegally at Redbridge last month, may be worth £200. Intelligence we share with the police indicates that serious criminals are poaching Sea Trout on the Wallington and attempting to hawk their fresh catches to food outlets in Fareham. While a gang of known criminals are believed to have set nets in our estuaries in the western Solent to harvest Salmon and Sea Trout. Some ruthless local anglers are also opportunistically exploiting this resource.

The Test and Itchen Salmon population is estimated to be only 1,570 returning adult fish. This is well below their ‘conservation target’.

A large female Salmon can carry over up to 15,000 eggs, so if these fish are removed on a large scale it will remove their progeny from the future population, resulting in a long term decline in the size and ecological integrity of the population.

It is estimated that a single rod caught Salmon is worth over £7,000 to the local economy : a poacher might get £200 for that fish – the same (farmed) fish species that is available for £20 at the supermarket! Poachers cheat the community and make us all poorer.

We urge those who value the Solent to report any suspicious fishing activities to us. Look out for nets in estuaries or nets strung between moorings in our local harbours and marinas; traps or set-lines; or if you see someone shining a light into the water at night. A snatch is a weighted treble-hook on a hand-held line which is used to deliberately ‘foul hook’ or impale fish – with this poachers can catch the fish faster than with a rod and line but it causes a lot of damage to the fish. Look out for individuals leaning over bridges and suddenly jerking a hand-held fishing line or, if they have successfully hooked a fish, landing a large silver fish without a fishing rod.

EA photos

Snatch confiscated from a poacher. He illegally caught a Salmon ; used an illegal fishing method (not a rod and line) and was fishing for Salmon without a valid rod licence. Credit : Tim Sykes

Poaching on a large scale is only financially worthwhile if there is a commercial demand. That is created by a few unscrupulous local food outlets which are prepared to buy illegally caught Salmon and Sea Trout through the back door. They are themselves committing an offence when they purchase a wild Sea Trout or Salmon. The uncertainty in daily supply means that these outlets are unlikely to offer local wild Sea Trout or Salmon in their standard menu. We need people to be on the lookout for ‘Daily Specials’ offering local wild Sea Trout or Salmon, and to call us immediately.

If you are a local business, restaurant or gastropub and are approached by individuals offering to sell you local wild Sea Trout and Salmon, please call us immediately. Buyer beware

If anyone thinks that they have seen any illegal fishing or illegal selling of wild Salmon and Sea Trout, they should phone the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

EA photos

Adult Salmon in the River Itchen, 2012. Credit : Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

Want to see a Salmon? Visit the River Itchen at Bishopstoke on a rainy day in early November. Salmon can be seen leaping at Bishopstoke Lock, which is one minute walk along the public footpath from The Hub car park (free). Observe and wonder at this spectacular fish on their amazing migration, slave to an overwhelming natural urge to return to the spot where they were conceived, to spawn, die and decay. The cycle of life.

Tim Sykes

Fisheries & Biodiversity (Solent) Team Leader Environment Agency