Better consultation on Norfolk Coast MCZs?

The chalk reef off Cromer

The chalk reef off Cromer. Picture: ROB SPRAY.

Whilst DEFRA is already consulting on proposals for three MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone off Northumberland, two areas off Norfolk, whilst the Cromer Shoalshoal A sandbank or sandbar that makes the water shallow Beds and The Wash Approach may be taken forward for designation later. Norfolk County Council’s environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel all support the thinking behind the MCZs to protect marine wildlife, habitats and geology, and recognises that the two Norfolk sites warrant future designation.

But the paper is mindful and critical of ‘inadequate consultation’ with the local fishing community carried out so far, and says that it is strongly recommended that stakeholder engagement is substantially improved prior to subsequent propositions.

Council leader and cabinet member for environment Bill Borrett said that it was hugely frustrating that little consideration had been given to the impact of MCZs on fishing communities, saying “Inshore fishing is the most sustainable type of commercial fishing, but could suffer very badly, both from the loss of traditional fishing grounds and the increased pressure on those that remain”

John Lee, one of three North Norfolk Fishermen’s Society representatives who took part in the earlier consultations, pointed out that a ‘No Trawl Zone’ had operated for decades between Blakeney Church and Mundesley Church and three miles out to sea, and that their soft fishing using crab and lobster pots did not damage the marine environment.

This report based on the North Norfolk News story by Alex Hurrell appearing as ‘North Norfolk fishermen need to be consulted more on Marine Conservation Zones’.

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