After 15 years at the helm, Les Weller, Chair of the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), has announced his retirement.

Les leaves behind a legacy of unwavering dedication to sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of marine ecosystems. His departure marks the end of an era characterised by tireless advocacy and impactful IFCA leadership.

A former London Police Officer he retired to Northumberland in 2004 and has had an interest in conservation and all forms of recreational angling since the age of 5, in particular within the sea. Les’ passion for fishing led him to play a pivotal role in establishing the National Federation of Sea Angling.

Les was fully engaged in all iterations of “Net Gain” helping form the Marine Conservations Zones for the North East.  He is a qualified Sport England angling coach and an active shore and small boat angler.

He joined Northumberland Sea Fisheries Committee in 2008 and successfully applied for Northumberland IFCA in 2010 becoming vice chair and then chair, and vice chair of the Association.

Robert Clark, Chief Officer of the Association of IFCAs, said; “Les has been an amazing advocate for the Association of IFCAs since its formation with his dedication and passion for marine conservation. His support has been vital in our achievements over the past 15 years and he leaves an inspirational legacy for all of us.”

Replacing Les at the helm is Amelia Henderson, a respected recreational angler and staunch advocate for marine conservation.

Incoming chair Amelia expressed her commitment to building upon Les’ legacy by fostering collaboration among stakeholders, fishing communities and conservation groups.

She said: “I am deeply honoured to follow in Les’s footsteps. I am committed to working hand in hand with all of our stakeholders to preserve our coastal waters and uphold our rich marine biodiversity.”

NIFCA also welcomes new members to its ranks.

Brian Douglas is bringing fresh perspectives and expertise to the Authority’s endeavours. Furthermore, Guy Renner-Thompson has been nominated to serve as vice chair, further strengthening NIFCA’s leadership team.

Jim Stephenson, a commercial fisher and NIFCA member for more than 28 years, has retired from his position. Mark Southerton said; “Jim Stephenson has been a cornerstone of NIFCA’s efforts for over 28 years, and we are immensely grateful for his dedicated service to our community.”

We wish Les and Jim all the very best in their retirement and welcome Amelia, Brian, Guy and the Team to their new roles at NIFCA.