Announcements

Event Notice Bognor National Original Date Cancelled Now Moved To Back Up Date – May 9th 2015.

The British Spearfishing Association, is making strides in 2015 to become more inclusive to all Spearfishers with a new come try dive. We invite every spearfisher man, woman, boy and girl to join us in our new come try dive at Ringstead Bay, Weymouth on the 6th June. Please come a meet new friends a divers alike.

This will go ahead regardless of the weather and if there is no diving there will still be a meet.

For updates and latest news please visit the British Spearfishing Association Facebook page.

 

Response on the MCZ consultation sent to DEFRA:

“This response is made on behalf of the British Spearfishing Association, the UKs national governing body for spearfishing:

We understand and support the need for a network of marine protected areas, supported by appropriate, evidenced and enforceable management measures to promote the conservation and recovery of marine ecosystems. We actively supported the work of the regional projects, particularly Finding Sanctuary where we had a representative on the steering group and dedicated substantial resources mostly in the form of time.

The process of site selection was made particularly difficult due to the delays in the provision of national guidance, the size and nature of that guidance when finally published and the lack of clarity provided on the likely nature of any potential management measures. We believe this continuing lack of clarity on management measures prevented many consumptive users from providing as much information as they possibly could have.

The consultation process itself has been hindered by the complexity of the packages of information included and the way in which the relevant web pages have been used to display and link to them. As such, it favours input by larger organisations with dedicated staff resources and precludes the contribution by many stakeholders who may be affected by the implementation of the proposed MCZ, regardless of whether they wish to voice support for, or opposition to, any sites. The language used within the Site Summary tables should have included clearer explanations of the feature names to enable non-specialists to understand and interpret the data. If a public consultation is to be meaningful and inclusive, every effort should be made to make it accessible to the public, and to make it clear exactly what the results of the proposals being consulted on will be. There is clearly still a great deal of confusion amongst stakeholders about exactly what MCZs are intended to be, and what activities are likely to be restricted within them.

Having been involved in the process from the start, we have proceeded on the assumption that spearfishing will not be prohibited in non reference areas. On this basis we broadly support the areas proposed within this first tranche, but have the following reservations;

We would question whether the proposed number of sites is extensive enough to have any significant positive impact on the UK marine environment.

We do not feel that that displacement of towed gear effort from proposed MCZs has been fully considered. We are concerned that some of this displaced effort may go into increased static gear fishing, particularly for non quota species such as bass which are of particular interest to our members.

We do not believe that designating a small percentage of UK waters as MCZs is any kind of substitute for the proper management of UK fish stocks to benefit all stakeholders.

We support the Kingmere Rocks MCZ, but are concerned that Black bream have been included in the designation, as they are a mobile species, and were also not included in the species/habitat lists issued to the regional projects.”

End

 

DEFRA have just announced the consultation on a new set of Marine Conservation Zones, as promised in the Marine and Coastal Access Act. http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/12/13/marine-conservations-zones/
What does this mean to spearfishermen?
The first thing to understand is that these are NOT “no take zones”
The areas listed in the DEFRA documents were produced from  4 regional projects which have been running for the last few years trying to identify areas for Marine Conservation Zones. The British Spearfishing Association had a representative on  the steering group of Finding Sanctuary, which covered Devon Cornwall and Dorset, and has been very active throughout the process making sure all spearfishermen are treated fairly. Also on the steering groups were representatives from as many user groups as possible: scientists, anglers, conservation groups, commercial fisherman of all types, yachties, aggregate companies, harbour authorities etc etc. The idea was to try and reach some sort of consensus as to the best places to put MCZs for maximum benefit and minimum negative impact.
Each of the areas listed has been selected because it contains a specific habitat type or species. If, following the consultation which has just been announced, DEFRA go forward with an area, it will then be the responsibility of the “competent authority” to bring in management measures which will protect the species/ habitat the area has been designated for.  In the case of anywhere inside 6 miles this will be the local IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, what used to be the Sea Fisheries Committee). These measures may take the form of byelaws or may be some kind of voluntary agreement if that is thought appropriate. It will need to be demonstrated that any management measures proposed are effective , reasonable and proportional.
As an example, the “Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges” site has high energy intertidal rock, pink sea fan and native oyster listed as the habitats and species it is being proposed for. If the site goes forward management measures which protect these species will need to be introduced by Southern IFCA (after a further public consultation as required of all new byelaws) Activites which may damage the species or habitat, such as in this case probably towed gear (trawling and scallop dredging) and aggregate extraction will be restricted or stopped, but activities not thought to have a harmfull effect (such as lobster potting, angling and spearfishing) will continue as before.
In practical terms most of the MCZs will probably have some restrictions on towed gear, but static gear, angling and spearfishing should be largely unaffected.

The BSA committee will now go through the whole document and prepare an official response, which will take some time. If any spearfishermen  (BSA members or not) have concerns about about specific sites, or have anything you would like covered in the response please get in touch