Strict protection ‘in best interests’ of fishermen

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One of the most scenic stretches of the Yorkshire coast, Flamborough gained rigid new protection in 2010 with the introduction of the “no-take zone” barring any human interference with the marine environment.

It was hoped the measure would allow slow-moving species to thrive and aid scientific study of the area, which stretches from the Bridlington edge of Danes Dyke to Sewerby Steps and extends from the cliffs to about 700m out to sea. The site is now being put forward as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) reference area, which means it will continue to receive the highest protection possible under Government legislation.

The North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA), which polices the site, has been carrying out a robust monitoring programme to measure the success of the no-take zone.

David McCandless, the authority’s chief fishery officer, said: “We are into our second year and we have been looking at the changes in lobster population. On a monthly basis between May and September we work a number of pots from Flamborough and measure the catch.

“There’s already a no-take zone at Lundy Island and very quickly they noticed the lobster becoming larger because of the protection of the designation.

“This is something we’re keen to see.”

The site was selected after consultation with commercial and recreational fishers and onshore businesses.

Flamborough fisherman and lifeboat crew member Dan Major, who has been monitoring the zone, said: “Flamborough Head has been well managed for years. That’s why it’s a place of natural beauty.

“It was the fishermen that agreed to the zone. At the end of the day if the fish stocks improve, it’s in our best interest.”

Around five fishermen have been given formal warnings since 2010.

NEIFCA issued the warnings after lobster pots and nets were thrown in and around the site.

Mr McCandless said: “So far the compliance has been really good.

“If we came across someone professionally working fishing gear in the area or someone collecting bags of mussels or winkles we would take formal action against them but to date we haven’t detected anything significant other than minor infringements.

“We work very quickly when we get information about illegal activities on the site.”

The Flamborough community has pulled together in helping to police the site.