Call for evidence – MMO assessment of fishing activity impacts in marine protected areas – Stage 2

Closed 10 Jul 2022

Opened 14 May 2022


The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is seeking additional evidence and views on our draft MPA fisheries assessment of the impacts of fishing using bottom towed gear on certain designated features of 13 marine protected areas (MPAs).

MMO manages activities in the 230,000 square kilometres of seas around England. We are responsible for assessing the impacts of fishing on designated features of MPAs and, if required, developing byelaws or other management measures to further MPA conservation objectives.

Following EU Exit, the UK is now an independent coastal state. In January 2021, MMO received new byelaw-making powers through the Fisheries Act 2020 to manage fishing throughout English waters for the purpose of conserving marine flora, fauna and habitats. This means we can now manage fishing in English offshore MPAs. 

Four offshore MPAs have already been reviewed and byelaws introduced through Stage 1 of the MMO’s work to support the Government’s ambition to ensure all fishing in MPAs is appropriately managed by 2024. As part of Stage 2 of this work we have created a draft assessment of the impacts of fishing using bottom towed gears on rock, and rocky and biogenic reef features in 13 MPAs. These features were chosen for Stage 2 as they are some of the most sensitive to the impacts of bottom towed gears.

The MPAs considered in the draft MPA fisheries assessment are listed and mapped below:

  • Cape Bank Marine Conservation Zone
  • East of Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone
  • Farnes East Marine Conservation Zone
  • Foreland Marine Conservation Zone
  • Haig Fras Special Area of Conservation
  • Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton Special Area of Conservation
  • Hartland Point to Tintagel Marine Conservation Zone
  • Goodwin Sands Marine Conservation Zone
  • Land's End and Cape Bank Special Area of Conservation
  • North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef Special Area of Conservation.
  • Offshore Brighton Marine Conservation Zone
  • South of Celtic Deep Marine Conservation Zone; and
  • Wight-Barfleur Reef Special Area of Conservation

MMO duties and powers

MMO has duties under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 to ensure that special protection areas (SPAs) and special areas of conservation (SACs) are protected from damaging activities. MMO has duties under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to exercise relevant functions in a manner which best furthers the conservation objectives of marine conservation zones (MCZs). MMO has powers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to introduce byelaws to manage fishing for the conservation of marine flora, fauna or habitats.

Management Options

The focus of this call for evidence is to ensure the draft MPA fisheries assessment is based on the best available evidence. Decisions on management measures will be taken at a later date and will be subject to appropriate levels of consultation.

We are considering the following high-level management options to further the conservation objectives of Stage 2 MPAs:

Option 1. No fisheries restrictions. Introduce a monitoring and control plan within the site.

Option 2. No statutory restrictions. Introduce a voluntary agreement.

Option 3. Reduction of pressures associated with bottom towed fishing gear(s) of concern, through zoned management (partial site prohibition of these gears over areas of highly sensitive designated features).

Option 4. Removal of pressures associated with bottom towed fishing gear(s) of concern through a whole site prohibition of these gears.

After the call for evidence stage, specific management areas will be developed based on additional evidence received and stakeholder feedback, ahead of formal consultation on any measures. Any management measures will apply equally to all fishing vessels, regardless of nationality.

Questions to consider

In this call for evidence, for each MPA, we ask the following questions:

1. Do you have any additional information about the location, condition, or sensitivity of the designated feature(s) assessed?

2. Do you have information about the level or nature of fishing activity within the site?

There is also an opportunity to share further information which you can upload as a document.


Before providing any responses, please read the documentation below to familiarise yourself with the MMO’s draft MPA fisheries assessment and information on the MPAs and designated features.

In your response, please reference any specific pages/paragraphs which your comments relate to. This will ensure any comments received are fully understood and of greatest value. 

You can provide a response to these questions for each MPA under their dedicated section. Alternatively, if you would like to provide a response that relates to all sites, please provide comments under the ‘All site comments’ section.

It is possible to respond only to specific sections of the survey; you do not need to provide comments on every MPA. For example, broad responses relating to all sites can be added to the 'all sites' section without needing to add MPA specific information in the MPA sections.

There is a function to save your draft response as you go so that you can return at a later date to complete your response. Alternatively, we recommend writing up your response in a separate document and copying and pasting your response into the survey.

Please find below information sheets regarding Stage 2 MPAs and their associated designated features to aid your review of our draft MPA fisheries assessment. 

What happens next

The call for evidence - MMO assessment of fishing impacts in marine protected areas - Stage 2 is now closed.

We will review the information received during this call for evidence, alongside other information (including analysis of academic literature, fishing logbook and vessel monitoring system data), to update and finalise our assessment and consider fisheries management proposals for stage 2.

If we believe that management measures are required, we will identify the most appropriate way to implement these and take steps accordingly, including appropriate levels of consultation.


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