Fisheries Research & Management Plans

What are Fisheries Research and Management Plans?

Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (D&S IFCA) is currently at the start of a project, in partnership with North Devon UNESCO Biosphere as part of the North Devon Marine Pioneer programme to develop Fisheries Research and Management Plans (FRMPs).

FRMPs will collate, review and critically analyse existing data on fish stock structure, fisheries management and marine environmental management to identify gaps in knowledge which may hinder current or future efforts to manage those stocks. Critically, FRMPs will include both scientific and local anecdotal information and consider a broader range of activities than would typically be included  in a fisheries management plan as a first step towards a local application of the Ecosystem Approach.

For each species the FRMPs will identify key gaps in knowledge in terms of ecology, fisheries and impacts of other activities. Each Plan will result in a prioritised research portfolio and identify potential partners for undertaking the work. Furthermore, any implications for management of the stocks considered will be summarised and the lead authority identified.

In 2019 support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund was granted in order to employ an officer for one year to produce the first FRMPs for the first five species in the north coast of the D&S IFCA’s District. It is envisaged that FRMPs will be developed for a wide range of species for the whole of the D&S IFCA’s District.

Wherever possible FRMPs will take a collaborative approach in order to draw in information from the widest array of sources possible and to make them accessible and useful for the broadest possible audience.

The project will:

1. Define the Ecological Baseline

Collate existing evidence on fish stocks of commercial importance in North Devon and review their ecology and stock status in order to identify suitable species for a more regional (local) approach to management.

2. Describe the Current System

Identify current activities that impact on the stock, implementing an ecosystem approach that considers all industries and activities, pathways of impact, current management and relevant legislation.

3. Set the Path to Local Management

Explore the additional evidence required to be able to manage those stocks at a local level and prioritise and develop a strategy for data collection for each species, which can inform future projects and collaborations.

Who are Fisheries Research and Management Plans for?

FRMPs will help D&S IFCA to highlight, rationalise and prioritise future research as well as identify any considerations for changes to management within D&S IFCA’s remit and ability, through its Permitting Byelaw. Where the findings of the reviews have implications for management outside of D&S IFCA’s responsibility, the FRMPs will provide an evidence base which D&S IFCA can use to work with other agencies and organisations where opportunities present themselves. Examples of this might be  in the development of national policy or the iterative progression of Marine Plans.

It is also hoped that FRMPs will be useful as one-stop-shop of fish and fisheries knowledge to a wide range of stakeholders including academic researchers, NGOs, recreational and commercial fishermen, marine licencing officers, marine planners and developers.

What will Fisheries Research and Management Plans Include?

Species Ecology

A thorough review of species ecology is required as a starting point for understanding any possible considerations for future management. Information on the geographic range, migration and movements, conservation status/designation and life history strategy will be described for an agreed set of species. There will also be a focus on essential fish habitats, as well as any relevant food web information. The reviews of species ecology will critically analyse the available information and consider sampling limitations and biases of existing data sources in order to identify any gaps in our current knowledge.

There will also be a need to include local anecdotal information from both contemporaneous and historical sources. It is this aspect, along with the broad scope of the consideration of the impact pathways that will make this project pioneering.

Specific Fisheries Information

A detailed description of the fishery will be undertaken including the history of the fishery, information on landings and value, location of fishing grounds and any changes over time.

This work will draw together a variety of sources; from ICES stock assessments to local knowledge to provide a thorough description of the fishery at a variety of scales. Fisheries will be considered within the context of the relevant local, national and European management and the development of relevant management policy will also be described. 

Ecosystem Approach

Activities such as aggregate dredging, coastal power stations, renewable energy generation, oil and gas exploitation and coastal development for housing and marinas may affect the structure and functioning of inshore fish communities. Impact pathways include habitat change and loss, direct mortality of fish and increasing underwater noise. Terrestrial activities can also affect inshore fish & shellfish communities, for example; climate change and poor farming practices and sewage outputs affecting coastal and estuarine water quality. Information on marine activities will be collated and potential impacts on fish communities and populations will be considered. A gap analysis for understanding the impact pathways and local effects will be undertaken.

Website Page Updated: 16/10/19