Hugh’s Fish Fight

Below are the reasons we are supporting Hugh’s Fish Fight, as well as making for much better dive sites in the UK and around the world. Please pledge your support so that we can all carrying on enjoying our seas and making them a sustainable food source.

The following points give more detail on our approach to Marine Protected Areas:

1. We support sustainable fishing and Marine Protected Areas, and we think the two can enhance each other. We would like to see a network of 127 Marine Conservation Zones where sustainable fishing such as potting, that does not destroy the seafloor habitats fisheries are dependent on can continue to thrive. Our work on discards, and with the small-scale fishing fleet respects the association of these important fishing communities with the sea. We believe that MPAs will enhance fishing communities.

2. Healthy seas are important to everyone in Britain, and everyone deserves a say in how the seas are managed. They belong to all of us. In 2013, the UK has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the future of our seas. Let’s get it right, together.

3 .The seas around Britain are out of balance – many of the fish stocks that are or were important are now in a poor state. This has lead to us fishing down the food chain, dredging the seafloor to catch canapés for the wealthy, not nutritious fish for the masses. UK landings of scallops have doubled in the last 5 years, while UK landings of cod, haddock, herring and mackerel have all fallen.

4. Our seas need more protection from these methods of fishing that cause the deterioration and destruction of reefs and other marine habitats. We question how protected an area really is if bottom trawling is still allowed to take place.

5. We believe MPAs in the UK can benefit fishermen. They can allow small, inshore boats to take on more stewardship of their local waters. They can enhance the diversity and abundance of fish and shellfish available to catch.

6. There are a variety of valid reasons for creating an MPA: to protect fish stocks and help their recovery, to protect and recover seabed habitat and species, to promote certain fishing methods, to allow the demonstration of new methods of marine management, or as part of scientific research. In 2002 the UK committed to create an ecologically coherent and well-managed network of MPAs by 2012.

7. Even if an area is in a good state because it is currently not targeted by high-impact fishing methods, creating an MPA now is important to make sure it stays that way.

8. An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Doing science at sea is very expensive to society, and time-consuming. We cannot wait for rock-solid evidence on every feature before we designate a Marine Protected Area.
By then it may be too late.

9. Marine Conservation Zones will offer new opportunities to evaluate the impacts of MPAs in the unique environmental
and socio-economic conditions of the UK. In most Marine Conservation Zones non-damaging fishing such as low levels
of potting, static gear and angling will continue unheeded. The costs and benefits of new MPAs to all types of fishing must
be evaluated systematically.

10. Marine reserves are also needed (in addition to multi-use MPAs) which are closed to all fishing and other impacts
and are important for providing a reference against which to judge how well other MPAs are performing. Scientific evidence shows that marine reserves can enhance the diversity and abundance of fish and other species in temperate seas. Currently marine reserves protect less than 10 km2 of our seas.

11. MPAs are not a solution to every problem. More intelligent management of our wider seas must go hand-in-hand with
the creation of MPAs. Government bodies must engage with local fishermen to help improve management of their local waters. We have seen how inshore fishermen can be empowered in managing their waters once an MPA is in place.

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