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What is D&S IFCA and what does it do?

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MaCAA) introduced a new framework for managing the marine environment and providing greater access to it. This Act of Parliament replaced Sea Fisheries Committees with Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) and is fundamental to the work of D&S IFCA.

The D&S IFCA is the largest of the ten separate IFCA districts and has two separate coastlines. The area of the District is 4522km² and is defined in the Statutory Instrument (2010 No. 2212). The D&S IFCA District includes the areas of Devon, Torbay, Somerset, Gloucestershire County Councils; Bristol City and Plymouth City Councils; North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils and all adjacent waters out to six nautical miles offshore or the median line with Wales. The Latitude and Longitude positions of our district can be found in the Byelaw booklet.

“D&S IFCA will lead, champion and manage a sustainable marine environment and inshore fisheries, by successfully securing the right balance between social, environmental and economic benefits to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry”

The Full Authority is comprised of 30 members drawn from relevant Local Authorities (Councillors), General Members (appointed to the Authority by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Statutory Appointees representing the MMO, the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE). D&S IFCA is funded via several different funding Authorities (councils) with an additional contribution from central government. Officers are employed by D&S IFCA to conduct work on behalf of the Full Authority. The main office is situated in Brixham with one officer located in the Severn area of the District.

Core work undertaken

In meeting the main duties specified in MaCAA, the work of D&S IFCA is basically divided into different areas as follows:

Enforcement

These duties include enforcing the byelaws implemented by D&S IFCA and also the enforcement of EU and domestic legislation. D&S IFCA currently has one 6.4 metre rigid inflatable boat to conduct enforcement work at sea. D&S IFCA works closely with other organisations such as other IFCAs, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Boarder Force (BF) with which it shares assets. D&S IFCA is committed to the use of new technologies for enforcement purposes, particularly remote technology.

Research

Research and survey work conducted by D&S IFCA informs evidence bases subsequently used to manage fishing activities via the introduction of local management measures that can include legislation in the form of Byelaws. D&S IFCA currently has an 8 metre survey vessel used for independent survey work at sea. D&S IFCA works in co-operation with other organisations and the fishing industry to conduct research work and also takes environmental advice regarding MPAs from Natural England. D&S IFCA research and survey work (and external research and advice) also informs longer term management that can be achieved via the permitting byelaws that contain flexible permit conditions.

Byelaw work

The byelaw work is often a lengthy and complex process. It requires specialised skills and background knowledge. This Authority has created a Sub-Committee to conduct the byelaw work. The Byelaw and Permitting Sub-Committee is formed by a number of Full Authority members, each offering a different set of skills or background knowledge that is utilised to complete the required work. Officers prepare the material used by the Sub-Committee for their deliberations (meetings) and the Sub-Committee’s recommendations are then presented to the Full Authority at key stages. The Byelaw and Permitting Sub-Committee hasbeen given delegated powers for Byelaw work.

There are a number of legacy Byelaws in place that were inherited from Devon Sea Fisheries Committee. All legacy byelaws must be reviewed. In addition to reviewing legacy measures, members of the Sub-Committee are also tasked with reviewing flexible permit conditions and providing recommendations to the Full Authority for potential changes to the permits.

All of the separate elements of the byelaw work are a team effort. Although the officers prepare the majority of the material (reports) required for the process, the officers do not take decisions at any time.

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