New forum plan outlined to MEPs –

New forum plan outlined to MEPs Published:  01 September, 2005

REPRESENTATIVES of the North Sea Commission Fisheries Group from Denmark,Sweden, Norway, mainland Scotland and Shetland have briefed the European Parliament Fisheries Committee on a proposed Inshore Fisheries Forum.

Peter Dryburgh, Shetland Islands Council Fisheries Director, said:

“Many people around the coast depend upon the coastal seas for their living.

“Activities such as tourism and transport are very important to coastal communities. Coastal waters can be rich sources of fish and shellfish and contain special habitats and species which are important from a conservation standpoint.

“The inshore fisheries sector currently faces heavy challenges from other activities in coastal waters. There is increasingly heavy use of these waters for recreation, aquaculture, transport and power generation. There is also strong pressure for the designation of closed or managed areas for conservation purposes to protect vulnerable species and habitats.”

Ann Bell, North Sea Commission Fisheries Advisor explained that the forum could serve a number of functions.

It could:

· Promote greater participation in the management of coastal waters by local communities and encourage more devolution of management powers for inshore fisheries.

· Bring fishers, environmental interests, leisure anglers, conservation agencies and local communities together to seek appropriate protection measures for inshore waters.

· Seek solutions to the conflict which often exists between the inshore sector and others fishing in coastal waters.

· Represent inshore interests on the North Sea Regional Advisory

Council, by seeking direct membership of the Executive Committee, or active observer status.

· Consider the advantages and disadvantages of transferring inshore fishing rights to local fishers or local communities and seek to promote this where necessary.

· Think globally but act locally; sharing expertise for the benefit of inshore fishers and their local communities.

The presentation was well received by the EU Parliament Fisheries Committee and the NSC Fisheries Group will prepare a detailed proposal regarding the structure and funding of the Inshore Fisheries Forum.

The NSC Fisheries Group proposes a seminar in early 2006 to bring together all those interested parties from around the North Sea with regard to setting up the fisheries forum.

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