The UK Fisheries Economic Network (UKFEN), set up by Seafish in 2011 as an informal network for economists and analysts working in connection with the UK fishing and seafood industries, has today, October 1, issued best practice guidance for economists and industry analysts looking to assess the potential economic impacts of restricted fishing areas such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and wind farms.
The comprehensive guidance document is now available for download from the UKFEN pages of the Seafish website www.seafish.org. The completed work is the result of an UKFEN workshop held in March 2012 which brought together economists and industry organisations whose members are directly affected by restrictions on fishing grounds.
Hazel Curtis, Chief Economist at Seafish explains: “This guidance offers a great deal of useful, practical information to economists and analysts who are assessing the business impacts of proposed fishing restrictions. A key aim of this guidance is that less time might be spent discussing the methods and findings of impact assessments, making more time available for deciding how to mitigate and effectively address impacts, if the proposed restrictions are implemented. UKFEN members believe we have devised an approach that is well supported and understood by industry and by our peers and we hope the guidance will be put into practice.”
UKFEN members, Fiona Nimmo and Rod Cappell of Poseidon helped Seafish in drafting the guidelines. Rod Cappell said: “Poseidon is often asked to carry out impact assessments and fisheries valuations. Our discussions with the fishing industry on offshore developments and marine protected areas show how relevant and timely these guidelines are. We were very pleased with the contributions of UKFEN members attending the workshop and there is a lot of interest from others around the UK and internationally.”
Dale Rodmell from industry body NFFO was present at the workshop in March and said: “To date there have been variable levels of quality applied to the preparation of fisheries impact assessments. We very much welcome this pioneering piece of guidance that provides practitioners with insight into the variety of methods and approaches available that will ultimately help to encourage high standards.”
Malcolm Morrison from SFF said: “Given the wide range of new users of the marine environment, the SFF welcome the UKFEN developing good practice guidelines, which will help industry by providing confidence that the economic impacts are being robustly assessed for MPAs, Windfarms or any other development.”
Seafish has already made a practical attempt to use the guidance by asking economics intern Jack Emmerson to follow the guidance while assessing likely business impacts of a proposed Round 3 wind farm development at Hornsea.
Jack, who has recently returned to York University for his final year, interviewed fishermen from Bridlington to understand the importance of the area to them and compared the outcomes from using two different techniques to estimate the recent value of landings arising from the potential impact area.
A report of Jack’s experience following the guidance will also be available on the UKFEN web pages. Jack’s main findings regarding the best practice guidance were that the document is an invaluable guide on approach and methods and that using maps of the proposed area in interviews with fishermen is a hugely valuable way of collecting their input, especially on the cumulative effects of the particular proposed development combined with existing developments and closed areas.
Jack used the services of the Kingfisher Information team in Seafish to provide awareness maps of the proposed wind farm area for use during interviews with vessel owners.
This included gridded maps detailing the proposed wind farm boundary, additional offshore infrastructure, restricted areas and surrounding fishing grounds. Along with some additional fishing vessel intensity maps, this approach proved invaluable and clearly illustrated the spatial issues.
At UKFEN’s fourth meeting on 13th September, UKFEN members agreed that this edition of the best practice guidance should be updated as new information and access to data become available.
A further workshop is planned for 27th February 2013 to agree updated advice in light of expected improvements to spatial data that the MMO will be able to provide.
The guidelines are available to view here and all feedback is welcome and can be considered in the review workshop to agree contents of a second edition.
Membership of UKFEN is for economists and business analysts working with business data and issues in the UK seafood industry, including aquaculture and processing. Workshops or initiatives that arise from UKFEN collaboration are always likely to include industry and government representatives.
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