Article by Seafish – the authority on seafood. Fishing Industry Key Facts and Information
MPAs / MCZs
- Seafish supports the concept of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which can play an important role in protecting the biodiversity and productivity of our seas.
- However, MPAs need to have clear and measurable objectives, as MPAs designed for fisheries management may be quite different to those designed to protect marine biodiversity. There could be some win-wins – for example where a habitat in need of protection also provides an important nursery area for a commercial fish species.
- The UK fishing industry can play an important role in understanding the marine environment and aid the development and management of MPAs. Our knowledge of the distribution of marine wildlife and their interaction with fishing is poor. Employing fishermen to gather marine data and collaborate on fishing impact and mitigation work will help us protect our seas whilst maintaining seafood production.
- International research on the effectiveness of MPAs has demonstrated the importance of engaging fishermen to better inform the process, to more effectively monitor MPAs and to assist in compliance. Seafish has developed an ‘Environmental toolkit’ to show how fishermen can participate.
- Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designated areas of oceans, seas and coasts where species and habitats are protected from activities that are damaging or cause disturbance. Fishing activities which do not have a significant impact on wildlife will be unaffected. Some fishing activities might need to be restricted in certain areas, but it may be possible to find wildlife-friendly ways to keep working.
- MPAs can be established for different reasons. Marine nature conservation MPAs are areas identified for biodiversity protection. They are used for nature conservation where their primary objectives relate to the conservation and recovery of marine wildlife and habitats. However, they may also benefit fish populations. More generally, the term ‘Fisheries MPA’ is used to describe a tool for fish stock management and recovery.
- It is essential that the creation of MPAs does not damage fishermen’s jobs, fishing communities, fishing tradition and culture.
- Fishing will be restricted and, in some cases, banned within certain MPAs, leading to significant consequences for fishermen whose livelihood depends on the catch they land, and for the thousands of land-based industries associated with fishing. For that reason, it’s imperative that fishermen are involved in the MPA decision-making process to ensure that the expertise of those who spend the majority of their lives at sea is used to inform any changes to current processes.
For more information:
Seafish environmental toolkit for assessing impact of MPA’s:
Seafish environmental protection:
Seafish Guide to MPAs:
Seafish Guide to the environmental effects of towed gears: