Marine Protected Area Byelaws to Protect Coastal Waters of Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight

Two new Inshore Fisheries and Conservation byelaws are in force to protect sensitive reef and seagrass features in internationally important marine areas.

The byelaws, made by the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), protect the locally and internationally important habitats of seagrass and rocky reef habitats within Marine Protected Areas, in the productive coastal waters of Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

The byelaws cover some 25% of these coastal waters and manage 670km2 of seabed. A byelaw entitled ‘Bottom Towed Fishing Gear’ manages trawling and dredging and the ‘Prohibition of Gathering (Sea Fisheries Resources) in Seagrass Beds’ byelaw applies to bait collectors and hand gatherers working in seagrass beds.

By protecting these areas the IFCA is also protecting important fish and shellfish nursery areas for the benefit of both commercial and recreational fishers.

The Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) is responsible for the management of inshore fisheries in the coastal waters off Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Southern IFCA has carried out extensive public community engagement throughout all stages of the development of both byelaws.

Southern IFCA has a duty to further the conservation objectives of Marine Protected Areas and, in European Marine Sites, to restrict damaging activities that could significantly disturb species or deteriorate the habitats. Southern IFCA is following a government-led risk-based assessment of the impact of fishing activities on European Marine Site designated features.

Commenting on the byelaws Robert Clark, the Chief Officer of Southern IFCA said “Our coastal fisheries are very important and the introduction of these byelaws and the support and participation of the community in their development is a significant milestone in the sustainable management of our coastal waters”.

“These new byelaws protect important habitats and it is these habitats that support our important coastal fisheries”

Press Release, January 31, 2014; Image: IFCA

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