Fisheries Management Plans

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The UK government has responsibilities under international law and is committed to managing our fisheries in a sustainable way. Meeting our responsibilities will support vibrant, profitable, and sustainable fishing industries alongside a healthy and productive marine environment.

Defra has produced a policy statement on the Fisheries Management Plans

The Fisheries Act 2020 provides the framework to manage our fisheries as an independent coastal state outside of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The act requires the UK fisheries policy authorities (Defra, and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to publish fisheries management plans (FMPs) to help deliver our ambition for sustainable fisheries.

The Joint Fisheries Statement listed 43 proposed FMPs. Some will be developed jointly by 2 or more fisheries policy authorities, whilst others will be developed by an authority for its own waters. This includes details of the stocks covered, the authorities involved and their timetable for preparation and publication.

What the plans are

FMPs will be evidence-based action plans, developed in collaboration with the fishing sector and other stakeholders. Their purpose is to deliver sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.

Each FMP will specify the stocks, type of fishing and the geographic area covered, as well as the authority or authorities responsible and indicators to be used for monitoring the effectiveness of the plan.

Once published, FMPs will inform a wide range of relevant fisheries management actions. There will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to our FMPs – they will be designed according to the specific needs of their stocks, fisheries and location. Therefore, FMPs will vary in their content and format because our fisheries range from stocks whose management is well understood, to complex mixed fisheries with many stocks in whole sea areas.

How the plans work

Each FMP will set out goals and the actions needed for their achievement. The precise mechanisms needed will depend on the goals set out in the plan. Defra (and the other national fisheries authorities) must then take the actions set out in plan.

FMPs could draw upon existing tools, require new regulations or technical measures, or use non-statutory routes such as research plans, voluntary agreements and codes of conduct.

After publication, each plan will remain a live document that will be monitored, reviewed, and adapted as needed. Management actions must be adapted and updated when necessary to ensure the FMP meets its goals.

Preparing the plans

Defra is responsible for preparing plans, but will work collaboratively with delivery partners and the fishing sector to develop FMPs. We will also work with other marine industries, policy makers, scientists and environment groups when preparing FMPs.

This approach represents a significant shift in our fisheries management towards greater participation and collaboration with stakeholders.

Publishing the plans

Once drafted, FMPs must go through a public consultation, giving all interested parties the opportunity to give their views.

Once finalised, for FMPs relevant to English waters, Defra will then seek approval from the Secretary of State to publish the FMP (although for FMPs produced jointly with other fisheries policy authorities, Defra will act jointly with the other relevant authority to publish the document).

Planned publication dates for FMPs are set out in the Joint Fisheries Statement.

Frontrunner plans

Defra is developing 6 ‘frontrunner’ FMPs, which are outlined in this document. These frontrunners are piloting different ways of preparing plans in partnership with industry groups and other stakeholders. Lessons learnt from these projects will shape our future FMP work. Each frontrunner FMP has a delivery partner who is working with Defra and stakeholders to draft plans that represent a wide range of views. Stakeholders will have various opportunities to engage throughout the drafting process and then comment during the public consultation. Once published, FMPs will be monitored, reviewed and updated to ensure they are still fit for purpose. Stakeholders will also be part of this work.

The role of the AIFCA and IFCAs

The AIFCA is a member of the FMP Programme Board. The Programme Board oversees the development of the FMPs. The IFCAs are member of the groups that are drafting the FMPs and supports their development through the provision of, amongst other things evidence. The AIFCA supports the coordination of these groups to support their development. Once the FMPs are developed, as lead regulator of inshore fisheries in the England, IFCAs will be responsible for specific actions under each of the plans, to support the plans objectives.

Crab and lobster

The crab and lobster FMP will cover stocks in English waters only. The Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) is working closely with the Crab and Lobster Management Group, an industry-led advisory group to draft the FMP.
The draft plan is now being prepared for public consultation. Find out more about the Crab and Lobster FMP on the Seafish website or by emailing


The Whelk FMP will cover stocks in English waters only. Seafish is working closely with the Whelk Management Group, an industry-led advisory group to draft the FMP.

Find out more about the Whelk FMP and how to get involved on the Seafish website or email

King scallop

The King Scallop FMP is a joint plan between Defra and Welsh Government and will cover stocks in English and Welsh waters. The Scallop Industry Consultation Group Working Group is working with Seafish to draft the king scallop FMP. The SICG Working Group is a collaborative group comprised of UK industry representatives from the wider SICG and officials from all fisheries policy authorities.

Find out more about the King Scallop FMP and how to get involved on the Seafish website or by emailing


The Bass FMP is a joint plan between Defra and Welsh Government and will cover stocks in English and Welsh waters. Policy Lab is working closely with Defra and stakeholders in 2022 to help develop the Bass FMP. Policy Lab is part of the Department for Education and specialise in co-designing policy with stakeholders. To give your views or register your interest in future engagement events for the Bass FMP project, email

Channel non-quota demersal stocks (NQS)

The Channel NQS FMP covers International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) divisions 7d (eastern channel) and 7e (western channel). It will include important demersal (bottom living) species without agreed catch limits (quota), such as:

  • gurnards
  • cuttlefish
  • squid
  • octopus
  • john dory
  • surmullet
  • lesser spotted dogfish

The plan is being developed by the MMO. To find out more, go to the MMO’s Channel non-quota demersal stocks FMP page. To give your views or register your interest in future engagement events for the Channel non-quota demersal stocks FMP project, email

Southern North Sea and Eastern Channel mixed flatfish

The Southern North Sea and Eastern Channel mixed flatfish FMP covers the English waters within International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) divisions 4b, 4c and 7d. The plan will include the following flatfish species (quota and non-quota):

  • sole
  • dab
  • plaice
  • flounder
  • halibut
  • lemon sole
  • witch
  • turbot
  • brill

Defra is leading the work on the Southern North Sea and Eastern Channel mixed flatfish FMP. Give your views, or register your interest in future engagement events, email

Further information

If you want to find out more, contact Defra’s FMP team by emailing, or contact one of the delivery partners listed to register your interest in a specific FMP.

Fisheries Management Plans updates

More and more information is being added to the website about FMPs.

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IFCAs Management of Inshore Protected Areas.

it is only by leading, championing and managing a sustainable marine environment and inshore fisheries that we can be successful as an Association.

Tony Tomlinson MBE

Chairman, Association of IFCA