One year ago, we recorded our first ever episode live at the Future of Our Inshore Fisheries Conference. This landmark, inclusive event saw active fishermen, industry leaders, policy makers, regulators, researchers and a number of environmental groups come together in one place, to discuss the future management of the UK’s Inshore Fisheries.
This was a vital opportunity for real grassroots knowledge-sharing, where inshore fishermen were able to share their expertise and experience of fishing in the UK. There was an incredible energy in the room and an undeniable excitement around the possibility of collaborative action and change. Five key themes emerged, including co-management and collaborative science, resulting in a comprehensive report and action plan.
Now, a year later, we look back at this extraordinary moment with key members of the working group - Barrie Deas of the NFFO and Anne Freeman of Defra - to ask about what’s changed and see where we are now. In this upbeat and optimistic conversation, we ask Barrie and Anne how they feel about the elephant in the room - the global pandemic - and how this curveball has affected progress.
“This year was always going to be really hard, because of EU negotiations and preparation for the end of the Transition Period”, Anne states, “None of us foresaw Covid at that point and the terrible impacts that would have on the industry as a whole - particularly the inshore and the shellfish sector. But I think all this work that we have been doing has been really useful in helping the government to understand the sectors in more detail.”
Whilst there has been a delay in concrete, tangible progress, both guests point out that the year has seen a vital step in relationships being built between policy and industry, with the collaborative and communicative nature of the conference carving a clear pathway for future work.
“Covid has been a good example of co-management in the raw,” highlights Barrie. “The financial support package didn’t just fall out of the sky, it had to be fought for. It was a good example of the regulators and industry working together, on the basis of good information. That’s the essence of co-management!”
We reflect on how the energy and enthusiasm of last year’s conference might be re-mobilised after such a difficult year, ask what the Steering Group are doing, moving forward, for inshore fisheries, and discuss complex issues such as the Fisheries Bill, co-management, and quota allocation.
“What we’re doing here, at the moment, is creating a framework that will help us move forward”, explains Barrie. “We are making sure an inshore voice is heard, in everything we do”, continues Anne. It is key for fishermen to stay engaged in these discussions: at the heart of the conference was the need for industry-led change. Tune in for an update!
Anne Freeman, Deputy Director, Domestic Fisheries and Reform, Defra
Barrie Deas, CEO, NFFO
Future of Our Inshore Fisheries Report