New MCZ Sites for D&S IFCA Announced

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced the creation of  41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), six of which are located within the D&S IFCA District.  These new designations bring the total number of MCZs in the D&S IFCA District to 12.  42.3% of the D&S IFCA District is now covered by Marine Protected Area designations including MCZs.  Bottom towed trawls and dredges are prohibited in 24.5% of the D&S IFCA District or over 1,100 km2 of sea. D&S IFCA’s Metrics are set out in the 2019-20 Annual Plan.

The new designations are welcomed by D&S IFCA, and the Authority will get to work with its partner organisations and stakeholders to identify whether further management measures are required for these sites and to ensure it continues to meet its statutory duties set out in Sections 153 & 154 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Since 2014, the Authority has introduced over 50 management measures that are designed specifically to restrict some recreational and commercial fishing activity within the MPA network to protect the designated features or promote their recovery from the effects of such fishing activities.

The management measures have been introduced through four activity-based permit byelaws and these same byelaws will be used to ensure that any new management that is required for the new MCZs are also introduced in a timely way. The permit-based byelaws allow greater flexibility in how D&S IFCA manages different fishing activities and this can be explored in more detail in our new guide: Byelaw Work – Timelines, Status & Changes.

In August 2018, the Authority introduced a requirement through the Mobile Fishing Permit Byelaw (Permit Conditions and Annexes) for all vessels using fishing gear such as bottom towed trawls and scallop dredges, to have fitted on board a fully functioning Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) unit.  The VMS unit is required to transmit the vessel’s positional data not less than every ten minutes whilst operating in the District and not less than every three minutes whilst inside any MPA within the District. The use of the technology helps the Authority manage the towed gear fleet in a better way and has led to the Authority having a far more effective approach to enforcement.

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