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Management Measures Continue in Lyme Bay

25 July 2012

UK - Electronic tracking allowing South West fishermen into parts of a marine protected area will now continue after a trial monitoring their activity.

A Marine Management Organisation (MMO) led report on the Lyme Bay inshore vessel monitoring system (VMS) trial is published today. It found that the inshore VMS used aboard vessels in specified parts of the Lyme Bay and Torbay candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) meant fishermen could continue to fish in some areas, whilst protecting the sensitive natural reef habitats from the effects of bottom towed fishing gears.

The inshore VMS trial ran for 12 months in Lyme Bay, until spring 2012. It was run jointly with the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA). The fishermen’s organisation that took part signed a formal agreement with the MMO to test the inshore vessel position monitoring system and to avoid using their demersal towed fishing gears in the specified sensitive areas within the Lyme Bay and Torbay cSAC.

Following the trial, in order to continue to protect the specified parts of the cSAC, the requirement for fishing vessels to be equipped with inshore VMS remains in place as an ongoing management measure.

Nick Prust, owner of Brixham crabber Trevose which took part in the trial, said: "Our industry recognises that we need to look after sensitive conservation areas, but we also believe that we can find ways of sharing these areas to allow fishing to continue. This trial is a really good example of how we can make this happen."

Neil Wellum, Head of Marine Conservation and Enforcement at the MMO, added: "The trial has highlighted the importance of working with all of those involved to find the best solution possible. We are committed to the ensuring a sustainable future for our fishing industry while recognising the importance of protecting our marine environment and its sensitive features."

He added: "The report makes a number of recommendations for enhancements, and as these progress the potential for using these management measures more widely will be considered with all those interested in its uses."

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