North Sea fishing firms urged to become involved with conservation zones –

North Sea fishing firms urged to become involved with conservation zones Published:  26 January, 2010

DEEP sea fishing organisations on the East Coast are being urged to help with the creation of a new Marine Conservation Zone in the North Sea.

The initiative, called Net Gain, was launched in October, but now a series of meetings is being held at strategic locations between the Scottish Borders to East Anglia to open a dialogue with fishing groups and other affected parties.

At such a meeting in Grimsby a few days ago the Net Gain Project Manager Joanna Redhead outlined the thinking behind the new zone, which is expected to come into force in just under three years time.

She told her audience, which included a large fishing contingent as well as conservation groups, that not all the areas within the proposed zone would be prohibited to commercial fishing. The first step would be to consult and then establish the conservation zone areas which are designed to protect marine life – both fish and plant – birdlife and key fishing spawning grounds.

She said it was important that everyone became involved with the development Net Gain so their views could be taken into account when conservation areas are being set up. A chain of region hubs from the North East to Suffolk are being set up to take in views, examine the various commercial activities and sea life and coastal habitats which would then be sent to a scientific panel.

Grimsby fishing consultant Ivan Jaines-White said that in the past strategic decision which had affected the fishing industry were often imposed as a fait accompli or born out of a crisis when it was almost too late such as the North Sea herring ban. But on this occasion the industry was being consulted before any decision were taken.