Britain has always been a maritime nation, with a long heritage of sea based activities. But the sea is not an easy place to understand or look after for the long term benefit of all. For centuries we have used the sea without due consideration for the long term impacts. Indeed in the early 20th century it was still considered that the sea was inexhaustible.
A new approach is needed and we are now at an exciting time with a fundamental shift in our cultural approach to marine management. Replacing single issue management dealing (often badly) with our uses of the sea, we are beginning to understand the inter-related nature of all the resources.
All the various marine stakeholders need to pull together to achieve the long term goal and vision of healthy seas providing “ecosystem services” for the future.
To achieve this, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) were set up in April 2011 as a new type of regulator to work with stakeholder groups to achieve this common aim in English Inshore waters. The IFCAs replaced the Sea Fisheries Committees with extended responsibilities not only to achieve sustainable inshore fisheries, but also to help achieve conservation objectives. Of course they need to work in strong partnership with Government and other regulators with the aim of securing the future of the seas and the benefits we all get from them.
To help the IFCAs meet these challenges, the Association of IFCAs was put into place in September 2011 to assist the ten individual IFCAs at a national level and to promote IFCA achievements. It is early days in the implantation of the IFCA and Association plans, but already they are taking a lead role in delivering sustainable seas in the 0-6 nautical mile zone and working actively with the Marine Management Organisation where sites are further offshore.