Developing a participatory approach to the management of fishing activity in UK offshore Marine Protected Areas


MPA Fisheries Banner

26 March 2018

The seas around the UK are home to some of the most biologically diverse habitats and species in Europe. They are a rich source of natural capital, providing us with food, a valuable income, raw materials, and opportunities for leisure and recreation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the ways in which this natural capital can be conserved for future generations, while seeking to enable the sustainable use of resources.

JNCC and partners the Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Bangor University are launching a two-year project exploring participatory processes for establishing, evaluating and adapting fisheries management measures in MPAs that include sedimentary habitats as protected features.

The project will bring together the fishing sector, regulators, scientific advisors and academic researchers to explore the challenges of managing sedimentary habitats in MPAs. Case studies will be used to aid the development of a management toolkit which can be applied to other MPAs. Crucially, the project will focus on mechanisms for enabling the fishing sector to engage positively with the management process and bring their perspectives and knowledge to the table. Opportunities for improving communications and raising societal awareness of the value of protecting marine biodiversity will also be explored.

Dale Rodmell from the NFFO said: "This is an exciting project that aims to marry together an evidence-based approach to MPA management with a more in-depth involvement of those affected by decision-making. Ultimately, we want to produce management outcomes that are enduring, sustainable and widely supported."

Declan Tobin from JNCC said: “This project gives us a fantastic opportunity to work with all marine interest groups to develop a truly novel approach to sustainable management of our seas while allowing managers to make decisions based on the very best information available.”

The project partners are delighted to have been awarded funding for this work through the European Maritime and Fisheries fund (EMFF) and look forward to working with the fishing sector to achieve a common goal of conserving marine biological resources whilst enabling a sustainable future for our fisheries.




For further information or if you would like to be involved, please contact:

Declan Tobin, JNCC


Notes for editors

  • Project partners:


o   Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is a non-departmental public body that advises the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on UK and international nature conservation. JNCC provides evidence, information, and advice to governments, public bodies and stakeholders to support policy development, regulation and management of human activities to protect natural resources and systems. JNCC’s remit includes nature conservation issues affecting UK offshore waters, including raising public awareness of the value of offshore biodiversity.


o   Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is a non-departmental public body created in 2009 by the Marine and Coastal Access Act. MMO licence, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they are carried out in a sustainable way. MMO responsibilities include marine planning, marine licensing, managing fishing fleet capacity/ quotas, responding to marine emergencies, creation of marine conservation byelaws and enforcement for protected areas, species and habitats.


o   Natural England is a non-departmental public body that advises the Government on the natural environment, providing practical advice, grounded in science, on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of everyone. Natural England’s remit is to ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive. It is their responsibility to see that England’s rich natural environment can adapt and survive intact for future generations to enjoy.


o   The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is a representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  All sizes and classes of fishing vessel are represented, from under-10 metre beach launched vessels, to 110 metre pelagic freezer trawlers. 


o   Bangor University is a medium sized University with approximately 10 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It ranked in the top 25 (out of 134) Universities in the UK for research excellence in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The University is extensively involved in EU projects and the School of Ocean Sciences has had a particularly prominent role in many high profile marine science research programmes. The Fisheries and Conservation Group within SOS (Kaiser and Hiddink) has most recently co-led an international programme to quantify and model the effects of fishing on seabed ecosystems (funded by the Walton & Packard Foundations, the FAO and fishing industry bodies).