Developing a participatory approach to the management of fishing activity in UK offshore Marine Protected Areas


MPA Fisheries Banner


The seas around the UK are home to some of the most biologically diverse habitats and species in Europe. They are a rich source of natural capital, providing us with food, a valuable income, raw materials, and opportunities for leisure and recreation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the ways in which this natural capital can be conserved for future generations, while seeking to enable the sustainable use of resources.

JNCC and partners the Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Bangor University are launching a two-year project exploring participatory processes for establishing, evaluating and adapting fisheries management measures in MPAs that include sedimentary habitats as protected features.

The project will bring together the fishing sector, regulators, scientific advisors and academic researchers to explore the challenges of managing sedimentary habitats in MPAs. Case studies will be used to aid the development of a management toolkit which can be applied to other MPAs. Crucially, the project will focus on mechanisms for enabling the fishing sector to engage positively with the management process and bring their perspectives and knowledge to the table. Opportunities for improving communications and raising societal awareness of the value of protecting marine biodiversity will also be explored.


Project Aims

The overarching aim of the project is to develop and trial a framework and tools to deliver a participatory approach to managing fishing activity in MPAs, ensuring fair and effective management in the face of uncertainty. The project will bring together the fishing sector, regulators, NGOs, conservation bodies, scientific advisors and academic researchers to explore the challenges of managing sedimentary habitats in MPAs, and use key case studies to aid the development of a management toolkit which can be applied to other MPAs.


                                   A project overview document is available here.


The project will not aim to draw conclusions about the validity of policy-decisions for MPA management measures, rather it will develop and test a participatory process for making management decisions, ensuring that this is fair, transparent and uses the best available evidence. 



A total for 6 one day workshops are expected to be held before March 2020:

  • Thursday 15th of November 2018 in London
  • Wednesday 13th February 2019 in Lancaster
  • Wednesday 27th February 2019 in Norwich
  • Thursday 23rd May 2019 in Lancaster
  • Thursday 13th June 2019 in Norwich
  • Date & location for the 6th workshop expected Autumn 2019 still to be decided


                   More information on the workshop outputs to date can be found here.


Further information

If you are interested in being involved with the project and attending any of the workshops please or would like further information, please contact:

                                                   Alice Cornthwaite, JNCC


Project partners:

o   Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is a non-departmental public body that advises the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on UK and international nature conservation. JNCC provides evidence, information, and advice to governments, public bodies and stakeholders to support policy development, regulation and management of human activities to protect natural resources and systems. JNCC’s remit includes nature conservation issues affecting UK offshore waters, including raising public awareness of the value of offshore biodiversity.

o   Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is a non-departmental public body created in 2009 by the Marine and Coastal Access Act. MMO licence, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they are carried out in a sustainable way. MMO responsibilities include marine planning, marine licensing, managing fishing fleet capacity/ quotas, responding to marine emergencies, creation of marine conservation byelaws and enforcement for protected areas, species and habitats.

o   Natural England is a non-departmental public body that advises the Government on the natural environment, providing practical advice, grounded in science, on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of everyone. Natural England’s remit is to ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive. It is their responsibility to see that England’s rich natural environment can adapt and survive intact for future generations to enjoy.

o   The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is a representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  All sizes and classes of fishing vessel are represented, from under-10 metre beach launched vessels, to 110 metre pelagic freezer trawlers. 

o   Bangor University is a medium sized University with approximately 10 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It ranked in the top 25 (out of 134) Universities in the UK for research excellence in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The University is extensively involved in EU projects and the School of Ocean Sciences has had a particularly prominent role in many high profile marine science research programmes. The Fisheries and Conservation Group within SOS (Kaiser and Hiddink) has most recently co-led an international programme to quantify and model the effects of fishing on seabed ecosystems (funded by the Walton & Packard Foundations, the FAO and fishing industry bodies).

  • The project launched in April 2018,and is due to run for two years.
  • The project partners are delighted to have been awarded funding for this work through the  European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and look forward to working with the fishing sector to achieve a common goal of conserving marine biological resources whilst enabling a sustainable future for our fisheries.