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Natural England and Project Inshore

By Rob Whiteley, Natural England

Part of Natural England’s role, as the Government’s advisor on the natural environment, is to ensure that our seas are managed sustainably and that biodiversity is protected and enhanced for future generations. We have a dedicated team of fishery specialists working closely with regulatory bodies and the industry. Our goal is to promote sustainable fishing whilst still meeting our duties to protect the habitats and species of England’s inshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

We carry out our work at the quayside, with Fisheries Local Action Groups, and at a national level helping Government integrate its revised approach to fisheries management in European Marine Sites. We also work closely with the fishing industry, NGOs, and academic institutions to understand the impacts of fisheries and help find sustainable ways to manage it. Changes to how our inshore seas are protected and increasing fishing pressures mean it’s particularly important to take a holistic view when managing its protection.

Natural England supports the principles and standards around an ecosystem approach and sustainability promoted by Marine Stewardship Council certification together with proactive management and review of its associated fisheries. We were actively involved in the MSC certification process of the Menai Strait Mussel fishery, which, although based in Wales, takes some of its seed mussel from a MPA in northwest England. To demonstrate sustainability of the mussel harvesting we used a set of prior conditions developed with the operator to ensure no damage to the MPA’s protected features. The Welsh mussel fishery is a good example of a certified, healthy, sustainable fishery coexisting with a marine site protected for its nationally important birds and habitats.

Project Inshore itself is a unique and significant piece of work that will review the sustainability of all of England’s inshore fisheries, and rightly involves a wide range of stakeholders that work in and regulate the industry. Natural England is very pleased to be part of the project. We look forward to helping it progress, especially in identifying and developing the opportunities it presents for enhancing sustainable fisheries in our seas. RW

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