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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Section 153: Management of inshore fisheries

434.This section places a duty on each IFC authority to manage the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in its district. Subsection (2) sets out the key elements of each IFC authority’s duty. These are: seeking to ensure sustainable exploitation of fisheries; balancing socio-economic benefits with the protection of, or the promotion of the recovery of, the marine environment from past and present exploitation; taking steps to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development; and balancing the needs of all persons exploiting the district’s fisheries. Where, at a particular site, the marine environment needs to recover from past fisheries exploitation as well as to be protected from present fisheries exploitation, both of those needs will have to be balanced against the socio-economic benefits of fishing.

435.IFC authorities will be able to apply precautionary measures and use an ecosystem-based approach in order to fulfil their main duty. Precautionary measures in this context means that the absence of adequate scientific information should not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take management measures to conserve target species, associated or dependent species and non-target species and their environment. The ecosystem-based approach in this context means that the capacity of the aquatic ecosystems to produce food, revenues, employment and, more generally, other essential services and livelihood, is maintained indefinitely for the benefit of present and future generations.

436.Subsections (3) to (9) make provision in respect of guidance issued by the Secretary of State to IFC authorities. The Secretary of State must give guidance to IFC authorities as to how they are to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and must publish such guidance. The Secretary of State also may give guidance as to the performance of IFC authorities’ duty under subsection (1). Each IFC authority, in performing its duty, must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Before issuing such guidance, the Secretary of State must consult IFC authorities and other relevant people and organisations and must take into account IFC authority functions, the functions of other bodies exercisable in the IFC district and the resources available to IFC authorities.

437.The term sea fisheries resources is defined at subsections (10) and (11). Certain fish are specifically excluded from that term and therefore from IFC authority competence because the Environment Agency is responsible for regulating fisheries for those kinds of fish. However, IFC authorities are still able to regulate the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in order to provide protection for the fish listed in subsection (11).

438.The activities to which the main duties and powers of an IFC authority apply are set out at subsection (12). These activities include activities relating to cultivated fisheries such as aquaculture and mariculture as well as all recreational fishing activities. Mariculture is the cultivation of marine organisms in their natural habitats, usually for commercial purposes.

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