Updates & Events

On this page you will find updates and links to the work of the AIFCA, including information on available funding and forthcoming events.


AIFCA Project Updates



The Fisheries APPG held a “Fisheries and Protected Areas” event, where members heard from speakers from a range of organisations, including the AIFCA, who offered their insights into how the fisheries sector and implementers of marine protected areas can work together constructively, ensuring positive outcomes for fisheries stock sustainability and fishing communities. 

The meeting was chaired by Sheryll Murray MP. Alongside speakers from Government, academia and industry: Rob Clark, Chief Officer of the Association of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities talked on how IFCAs can support fisheries policy and marine protected area management in an inclusive manner at the regional level.

Please find the event recording below:



Coastal Futures 2022 Innovation for Ocean Recovery ONLINE Event 

WHEN 18-20th January 2022

The Association of IFCA  presentied to Coastal Futures 2022. The Organisers of the Coastal Futures and Restoring Estuarine and Coastal Habitats (REACH) conferences have joined together to develop a major online conference. There were 15 sessions & 6 keynotes covering a wide range of major themes that relate to the way we are intending to restore and recover our coastal and marine environment.

You can watch the recordings of the conference, including presentations from Sussex IFCA and the Association of IFCAs HERE

Next steps for UK fisheries ONLINE Event 

In January 2022 Tony Tomlinson MBE of the Association of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities presented at the Westminster Forum conference on the “Next steps for UK fisheries”. The conference brought together stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the future outlook and direction for fisheries management across the UK as the Government consults on the draft Joint Fisheries Statement. The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from: Defra; the Food Standards Agency; Food Standards Scotland; Marine Scotland; the Office for Environmental Protection; BEIS; DIT; the FCDO; the Isle of Man Government; the Planning Inspectorate; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament.

Location: Virtual conference

Delivered on:  January 2022 (Transcript of the speech, as it was delivered)

AIFCA Project Updates

The UK Fishing Restriction website is now live

December 2021


A new UK Fishing Restriction service has been launched. This service provides information on commercial fishing gear restrictions in UK waters. The AIFCA has supported the development of the project and engagement with the ten regional IFCAs. The service is provided by Kingfisher Information Services. Kingfisher is hosted by Seafish. Kingfisher has been providing information on subsea structures and the seabed to the fishing industry for over 50 years. All resources are available to the fishing industry for free.

The UK Fishing regulators and authorities, including; the ten IFCAs in England, Scottish Government (Marine Scotland), Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Welsh Government, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Isle of Man Government, have all provided data to the project.

The project solves some of the issues of the practical difficulties in finding, interpreting and plotting complex rules and regulations from multiple sources. This service aims to provide a consolidated and simplified gear focused view of all current commercial fishing restrictions in UK waters in a format which is easy to understand and can be used with confidence. In making this available to fishers it will help increase awareness of prohibited and permissible fishing operations, both inshore and offshore, and promote compliance with regulations as well as sustainable fishing practices. All gear restrictions have been categorised according to FAO fishing gear nomenclature and can be queried in the interactive map, downloaded for offline use, and viewed on fishing plotters.

This service has received support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). This has allowed Seafish to; develop a consolidated UK dataset of fishing restrictions, develop an interactive mapping website, supply fishers with an export of data in November 2021 for use at sea. Seafish are examining funding options to ensure the continuation and further development of this service beyond November 2021.

Understanding the scale and distribution of the impacts associated with abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) on benthic habitats and species.

December 2021

The AIFCA has accepted an invitation to join the Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) project steering group, to provide an advisory and review role, to amongst other things; provide advice on inshore fishing activity (for risk mapping) and other data sources that might be of use.

Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) represents a notable pressure on the marine environment across the globe and results in a range of impacts on marine habitats and species, such as ghost fishing or bycatch. Knowledge on the extent of ALDFG around the UK is currently limited, although there are a number of schemes and initiatives which are working to remove ALDFG from UK waters. In addition to removing existing ALDFG, there is a need to identify and prevent ALDFG entering the marine environment in the first place. The drivers of ALDFG can include entanglement in underwater obstructions (rocks, wrecks, etc.) and conflict between different types of fishing gear.

Through the identification of where these drivers of ALDFG are occurring, and utilising records of ALDFG, such as from seabed survey imagery this project will spatially map the area’s most at-risk from ALDFG. A range of mitigation and management options are available to address the problem of ALDFG and identifying these at-risk areas is the first step towards management action.

This project aims to build knowledge on the distribution of ALDFG to estimate the spatial areas most at risk from being impacted by this pressure, and to better understand where mitigation options can be applied to reduce these impacts in the marine environment.

This aim will be achieved by undertaking the following objectives:

  1. Identify areas of highest vulnerability to the occurrence of and impacts from ALDFG
  2. Identify the net benefits of mitigation measures
  3. Recommend priority areas for action, with suitable mitigation and management options.

Further information on the project is available from the AIFCA directly, or Ellen Last, MPA and Fisheries Advice Manager, JNCC the project manager 

Essential Fish Habitats IFM Workshop

December 2021

The AIFCA attended and chaired a marine session of an Institute of Fisheries Management hosted workshop on Essential Fish Habitats. The aims of the workshop to;

  1. Review the existing international and domestic literature on EFH.
  2. Identify existing domestic projects currently running in EFH.
  3. Definitions of EFH and preferential fish habitat (PFH) consistent with NE’s aims and objectives.
  4. Explore what habitats could be defined as EFH and PFH for a concatenated list of species recorded in fresh, estuarine/inshore and offshore habitats.
  5. Introduce the suite of projects that Natural England aims to deliver over the coming year.

The workshop was run on behalf of Natural England, who are seeking to inform the Fisheries Act objectives with information on EFH. The workshop consisted of a series of opening presentations to set the scene followed by three roundtable discussions on the key fish species.

The workshop reviewed key species and their association with EFH. Seeking to answer whether the project; has identified the correct key species, and any gaps; whether there are any pieces of research already done on this area that we need to be aware of; for each species what attendees consider to be both essential and preferential habitat at all life stages and what non-habitat specific variables should we consider.

In the marine session EUNIS codes were supplied, but in the event not used, instead the group consider the utility of such an approach was limited, whereas a series of species ‘guilds’ were used to discuss whether EFH could be identified using the following habitat groupings;

Refugia, nursery, spawning, feeding, aggregating and migrating. Within these groups some assessment of whether habitats were obligate or facultative. A report on the workshop will be prepared by the organisers in due course.

Cuttlefish Symposium

December 2021

The AIFCA was part of the organising committee for a ‘Cuttlefish Symposium’ which was held on the 25th of December. The symposium organised by the Blue Marine Foundation sought to initiate a collaborative effort to take the action needed to support the long-term health of UK cuttlefish populations and sustainable fisheries.

Fishermen, regulators and conservationists share concerns that the stocks and fishery are vulnerable to collapse without management intervention. The Symposium shared information on the biology, fishery status and management measures in place both in the UK and abroad.

Devon and Severn IFCA, Sussex IFCA and Southern IFCA presenting their work on research and management to over 150 people who attended the symposium. Following the event, so as to build on the initiative, and inform future fisheries management plans, a further workshop will be organised in Spring 2022 to collaboratively identify the most effective national and regional management measures to support the long-term health of cuttlefish populations and sustainable fisheries

Plymouth City Council’s #Motion4TheOcean

December 2021

Plymouth City Council became the first local authority to declare an urgent need for ocean recovery. The motion was proposed by Cllr Dr Pam Buchan (who is also a member of Devon and Severn IFCA) and developed in consultation with the Ocean Conservation Trust with support from Emily Cunningham of the Local Authority Coastal Special Interest Group. This means Plymouth City Council will:

  • Consider ocean recovery in all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to decisions
  • Ensure the Local Plan supports ocean recovery
  • Invest in the development of a sustainable and equitable blue economy.

The Ocean Conservation Trust has produced a model ‘Ocean Recovery Declaration’ – or Motion for the Ocean – which seeks to help all local governments #thinkocean and identify ways they can make a difference. A model motion can be accessed here. The model is particularly relevant to the IFCAs as it includes a pledge to “Work with partners locally and nationally to deliver increased sustainability in local marine industries and invest in the development of a sustainable and equitable blue economy, including the local fishing industry and the vital work of [local] IFCA” and to [7a] “Ensuring Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities have the resources they need to effectively research and monitor our growing number of marine protected areas, and to set and enforce appropriate fishing levels that support local economies and deliver environmental sustainability”

Fishmongers Company Visit

December 2021

The AIFCA along with Southern IFCA hosted the Fishmongers Company for a visit to the Poole Harbour. The Fishmongers’ Company is one of the oldest and most ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, one of the ‘Great Twelve.’ For 700 years it has stood on the banks of the River Thames playing a leading role in upholding the standards in the trading of fish and shellfish. A role it continues today, as well as making a significant contribution to the UK fishing sector.

During a visit to Poole Harbour the Southern IFCA Chairman Cllr Mark Roberts and staff from the Southern IFCA demonstrated how the fisheries in the area are managed. The group toured the Poole Harbour Several fishery, where they were hosted by Southern IFCA committee member and owner of Othniel Oysters aboard the oyster processing plant.

Gary Wordsworth, Othniel Oysters presents to Fishmongers Company aboard the Dorset Queen

IFCA Funding

7th September 2021

It is anticipated that a government Spending Review will occur in Autumn. Ahead of such a review AIFCA and the IFCAs were invited, by Defra, to make a representation to Defra on the IFCA spending needs for the period 2021 to 2024. Accordingly, the AIFCA and the IFCAs, though their Chief Officers, considered the activities emerging from government policy where IFCAs would be expected or could reasonably be expected to helpfully contribute to policy implementation consistent with wider duties placed on the IFCAs.

A spending review or occasionally comprehensive spending review is a governmental process in the United Kingdom carried out by HM Treasury to set firm expenditure limits and, through public service agreements, define the key improvements that the public can expect from these resources.

As well as the emerging policy areas, we considered to adequacy of the capital expenditure arrangement and the effect of inflation on the grant received.  In summary the IFCAs submitted that;

  • The IFCAs require significant investment if the government is to deliver a “world leading system of fisheries management” whilst delivering the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth,
  • To only account for the erosion of the value of the support provided to local authorities to deliver their new burdens as a consequence of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, an increase in the grant from £3.3 million to £5.1 million is required.
  • We identified that an additional investment of £1.85 million is required to deliver the additional IFCA responsibilities.
  • The replacement for the EU control and enforcement fund needs to provide resources for the IFCAs to replace and renew their patrol and research vessel fleet (noting that this funding route was identified in the original Marine and Coastal Act, 2010 Impact Assessment; and the capital replacement costs were excluded from the New Burdens arrangements).

Highly Protected Marine Areas UPDATE

7th September 2021

The AIFCA is a member of the HPMA delivery group. The AIFCA has been awarded a grant from Defra to support the IFCAs engagement in that process and is supporting the development of socio-economic criteria to select pilot HPMAs.

Ecological Criteria. JNCC and NE are currently in the process of identifying locations for potential HPMAs based on the ecological criteria as well as reviewing 3rd party proposals. Once JNCC and NE have identified and ranked potential sites they will be providing Defra with advice on a list of sites that meet the ecological criteria.

Socio Economic Criteria. The process for shortlisting HPMA pilot sites includes application and assessment of social and economic criteria. Drawing on recommendations from the Benyon Review, the AIFCA has worked with Defra and MMO to develop an initial list of social and economic criteria for shortlisting. The next step is to share this initial list with stakeholders and gather their feedback to assist us in developing and refining further. In particular, stakeholder input would be valuable in ensuring the full potential range of impacts is captured, appropriate measurement definitions and potential evidence sources.

Recreational Fishing and HPMA Buffer Zones. Following the Government’s response to the Benyon Review, and work undertaken to understand the impacts of Recreational Sea Angling (RSA) on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) and vice versa, further work is now required to better understand the potential for spatial management strategies for managing RSA around HPMAs, i.e. zoning, in English waters.

A literature review has been commissioned and views from regulators and members of the RSA community to discuss the feasibility of potential buffer option(s), highlight issues and the potential role of the RSA community in buffer zones.

More information can be found on the JNCC website Highly Protected Marine Areas | JNCC - Adviser to Government on Nature Conservation

Towards Regional Fisheries Management Plans. AIFCA project UPDATE

7th September 2021

The AIFCA has developed a project to support IFCAs engagement in the development of Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs). By way of background The Fisheries Act, 2020 requires that the fisheries policy authorities must prepare and publish a Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS). The JFS must contain a list of fisheries management plans that the fisheries policy authorities propose to prepare and publish detailing the stock or stocks of sea fish, the type or types of fishing and the geographical area or areas to which the plan will relate, as well as a timetable for preparation and publication. The list of fisheries management plans must be prepared by 23rd November 2022.6

An FMP must set out policies designed to achieve sustainable levels of exploitation. The requirement for FMPs raises many questions for IFCAs in terms of how their operations, byelaws and research are undertaken.

This research will aid the characterisation of principal bivalve and crustacea fisheries in England using social, economic and ecological criteria and providing proposals for how they are grouped and prioritised within the new FMP frameworks. Using case studies to highlight best practice (or worst practise) will enable the development of coherent management based on the different criteria and geographical extent of the fishery.

The outputs from the project will be primarily aimed at IFCAs themselves in identifying how they need to adapt and evolve operations although the successful delivery of FMPs will require close collaboration between MMO, Cefas, Defra and fisheries organisations.

The project is undertaken by IFCAs with the support of the New Economics Foundation acting as a consultant to the project. The project is joint funded from a grant from The Fishmongers Company and Defra. The project is due to report in October 2022. 

Championing Coastal Coordination Funding

2nd September 2021

The Championing Coastal Coordination (3Cs) project is an Environment Agency initiative with support from Natural England, the Marine Management Organisation and the Association of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities. 

Expressions of Interest ae being sort for the EA’s Championing Coastal Coordination (3Cs) funding. There are three themes:

  • Coordinating planning and delivery of locally owned plans and place-based initiatives
  • Coastal champions to strengthen capacity and capability in local stewardship
  • Restoration and recovery of natural habitats 

Applicants need to be charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institutions. Deadline for application is 30 September 2021. For further information and application forms, please contact 3cs@environment-agency.gov.uk

AIFCA Survey - Celebrating 10 Years - Findings Report Published 

14th July 2021

The Association of IFCAs has published a report on the findings of a survey of the members of the IFCAs. The purpose of the survey was to engage with IFCAs and recieve feedback from the IFCA membership on their experience as an IFCA member and to seek IFCA members views on the role of and potential improvements to the Association of IFCAs.

The survey was in three parts, the first part concerning the experience of IFCA membership, the second;  the role of the AIFCA and the third part regarding future engagement with the IFCA members.

The report will be used to inform the future strategy of the AIFCA and form the basis of recommendations to the Members Forum of the AIFCA.

The report is available HERE