Progress on scheme for trackers on all fishing boats

Fishing boats in Seahouses harbour. Picture by Jane Coltman
Fishing boats in Seahouses harbour. Picture by Jane Coltman

A project to help monitor fishing boats on the English coast is going to prove even more important given ‘the way Brexit is going’.

As previously reported, vessels are likely to have to be fitted with trackers in the coming years – but funding would be provided to cover the cost.

Currently, the technology is required on boats over 12 metres in length, but the Government has indicated that it is going to extend this to all boats through the Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS) project.

At the last quarterly meeting of the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), which covers an area from the River Tyne to the Scottish Border and six nautical miles out to sea, it was reported that the responsibility for the roll-out would lie with NIFCA and the nine other IFCAs around the English coast.

But at the latest meeting, on Monday, October 22, members heard that the responsibility will now rest with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), subject to approval by its board in November.

This means it will be the MMO which bids for funding for the cost of the equipment from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), while it is understood that the UK Government will take over funding of the project once the EMFF ends.

NIFCA chief executive Mike Hardy said: “We, as an authority, see benefits to this all round.”

Chairman Les Weller added: “The way Brexit is going, it’s going to be so important to have catch certificates (which detail when and where fish were caught).”

It is still envisaged that the roll-out will take place in three stages – nine-metre-plus boats first, followed by six to nine metres and finally six metres and under.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service