The Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust are proud to support the UK’s first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound which was declared on 14 September, 2019. In collaboration with Blue Marine, a long-term partner of the Company, we are working to develop the fisheries policy and framework for this exciting new initiative that has the potential to not only preserve and restore the area’s marine ecosystem but also to transform the way the local community engages with it.
Funding from the Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust also enabled the project to secure £180,000 of funding from Waitrose’s Plan Plastic campaign.
Our work focuses on three innovative initiatives that not only support the development of the National Marine Park, but could have significant impacts on the sustainable management of fisheries and marine protected areas across the UK and overseas.
Ghost gear is fishing gear that has been lost at sea and continues to catch, kill and damage marine wildlife and habitats whilst costing fishermen. The SafeGear project has developed a tracker buoy which allows fishermen to track their gear and prevent ghost gear from entering the National Marine Park. Electronic beacons are attached to existing gear markers allowing other vessels to see the location of fishers’ nets and pots, preventing incidents that create ghost gear.
The success of the National Marine Park is dependent on the enforcement of fishery regulations. Enabling fishermen to demonstrate where they have fished is key to allowing them to demonstrate their compliance with the rules in place and avoid costly legal issues. To tackle this the programme has developed technology that tracks whether fishermen’s nets were full at different GPS points, allowing the authorities to identify where fish were caught and fishermen to prove that they are complying with regulations in the Park.
Understanding the health of our fisheries relies on the ability to collect accurate data. The SAFESTOCKS apprentice scheme is creating 12 month programmes that train graduates to collect on-board fish data and samples, promoting career development for early career professionals, greatly reducing the cost of fisheries data collection and bringing young people into an ageing fishing community. This programme holds great potential to be rolled out across the country’s fishing communities, enabling us to fill large knowledge gaps in baseline stock data for many of the UK’s commercially-fished species.