PROJECTS & RESEARCH
REPORTS FROM EVENTS
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS HIGHLIGHTS
This consultation asked for feedback on the draft Statement of Public Participation for each of the next phase of marine plans. A draft Statement of Public Participation has been published for the North East, North West, South East and South West marine plan areas. This sets out who, when and how the MMO will engage with stakeholders during the marine planning process.
The feedback will input to the development of a Draft Statement of Public Participation, which the Marine Management Organisation will recommend to the Secretary of State for approval to publish.
The consultation ran from 11 April to 13 May 2016 and feedback is currently being analysed.
This June, they will be launching their Call for Issues with Supporting Evidence for these plans. As part of this, workshops will be held to help identify the challenges, opportunities and needs for these areas. Access the links above to see details.
The Angling Trust has welcomed the commitment from the Environment Agency (EA) to deliver an ambitious Five Point Approach to halt the dramatic decline of salmon stocks in England. Despite funding cuts from government, the EA has committed additional funding to support this extensive programme of work over an 18-month period.
The approach aims to address five key issues affecting salmon stocks:
The Salmon Five Point Approach is a partnership initiative involving Defra and a range of partners including the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, the Atlantic Salmon Trust, The Rivers Trust, and Salmon and Trout Conservation UK, who will all play a role in delivering on specific objectives.
Read more here
This is a citizen science survey that aims to raise awareness of the true extent of nutrient pollution, and identify clean water habitats in England and Wales, with the ultimate aim of helping to protect biodiversity.
Take part to find out whether the ponds, streams and rivers in your neighbourhood are really good enough for wildlife. With your help, the Clean Water for Wildlife survey aims to find the hidden gems – places which are free from pollution and where wildlife still thrives. The survey also aims to discover, for the first time, the true extent of nutrient pollution facing freshwater wildlife today.
Until recently it has been difficult to discover the level of nutrients in any individual waterbody without expensive laboratory analysis. Newly developed rapid water-testing kits are much quicker, simpler and more accurate than in the past, making it possible for most people to ‘see’ the pollution for the first time. With money from the People, Ponds and Water HLF funded project, we are able to provide free Packtest kits: these focus on recording two of the most widespread and damaging nutrient pollutants – nitrate and phosphate.
Find out more at: http://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/clean-water/
The UK has the highest proportion of bathing water sites rated as 'poor quality' in the European Union (EU), results from the European Environment Agency's (EEA) annual bathing water report show.
The EEA report compiles analyses sampled at more than 21,000 coastal and inland bathing sites across the EU, Switzerland and Albania, indicating whether or not it has been contaminated by faecal pollution from sewage or livestock. Results showed that the UK had the second highest number of poor bathing water sites in the continent in 2015, behind only Albania which is not an EU member. Out of a total of 633 UK bathing sites, 31 or 4.9% of beaches were regarded as ‘poor quality’, while only 59.6% achieved a top-level rating, with only Romania and Slovakia having lower levels of ‘excellent’ bathing waters.
The poor performance can largely be accredited to a tougher new EU bathing water ratings systems, which has made it roughly twice as difficult to attain an ‘excellent’ rating than when the old standards were used. In the first report under the new rating systems, the UK has seen the number of bathing spots ranked as ‘excellent’ fall by 4%, while the number of ‘poor’ rated spots has increased by almost 2%. A Defra spokesperson said: ‘Our bathing waters are cleaner than ever, with 97% meeting new, tougher standards. But we’re not complacent and we’re continuing to work with water companies, local authorities and communities to drive up standards on beaches and lakes across England’.
Bristol Magistrates Court has ordered Glastonbury Festival Ltd, organisers of the world’s biggest music festival, to pay £31,000 after pollution went into the Whitelake River.
More than 4km of the Whitelake River was polluted after approximately 20,000 gallons of untreated sewage escaped from a temporary storage tank on a farm at Pilton, near Shepton Mallet, on 29 June 2014. The pollution killed more than 40 fish and effectively wiped out the local trout population.
Glastonbury Festival plead guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing. The Environment Agency also asked that an incident from last year’s event involving overflow from a tank fed into by the festival’s ‘long drop’ toilets also be taken into consideration. Judge Simon Cooper ruled that Glastonbury Festival’s actions after the fish kill had not been negligent and were of low culpability. Hearing the organisers had been issued a caution after the 2010 festival, he ordered that a fine of £12,000 now be payable along with £19,000 costs for the two offences.
Here is the current list of designated bathing waters in England for the 2016 bathing season, 15 May to 30 September – to access, click here: List of current bathing waters (2016 bathing season)
The Blue Book is a single collection of UK and EU laws. The Marine Management Organisation tries to maintain the Blue Book with up-to-date legislation but cannot guarantee that it is up-to-date at all times.
For specific advice please contact your local Marine Management Organisation office.
Source of information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fishing-regulations-the-blue-book
The Environment Agency began its annual water quality testing at over 400 popular bathing beaches in May.
Water quality for beach-goers was better than ever in 2015. A total of 97% of England’s bathing waters passed and 264 beaches met the top ‘excellent’ water quality standard. During the bathing water season environment officers will take 20 samples at each location, from mid-May until the end of September. These will be tested in Environment Agency laboratories and the results will be published on the Bathing Water Explorer website shortly afterwards. Information and advice about water quality is also available at every bathing beach.
Hundreds of joint projects have been completed to successfully drive up standards over recent years: water companies have made significant investments to reduce pollution, councils and charities have run campaigns to keep beaches clean and advice has been provided to farmers on how to reduce pollution into rivers.
Following a call for suggestions that sparked global interest, Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough has been selected as a name that captures the ship’s scientific mission and celebrates the broadcaster’s contribution to natural science. The decision to name the ship after David Attenborough comes only days before his 90th birthday and is in recognition of his legacy in British broadcasting, inspiring a love of the natural world over generations. In a career spanning six decades, David has presented critically acclaimed wildlife documentaries on the BBC including The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. The £200 million ship, being built in the UK on Merseyside, is due to set sail in 2019.
Reflecting the global interest that the campaign drew, it has been confirmed that the popular suggestion Boaty McBoatface will live on as the name of one of the ship’s high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicles. The Boaty sub-sea vehicle will be dispatched from RRS Sir David Attenborough to allow the ship’s research crew to collect data and samples from the deepest waters of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Building on the interest in polar science generated by the naming process, it was also announced that the government will be investing up to £1 million in a new Polar Explorer programme to engage young people and inspire the scientists, engineers and explorers of the future.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is funding up to six groups to deliver community-led local development in England. These Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) will use the knowledge of local stakeholders to tackle fisheries issues at a local level. The MMO, which administers the EMFF in England recently chose a number of groups to move to the next stage of the FLAG selection process.
This blog explains how the North Thames FLAG was first set up and their experience so far.
This new partnership is a collaboration of more than 20 Scottish and English organisations responsible for managing the local inshore waters in this area. The original partnership was established 16 years ago to proactively manage the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast Special Area of Conservation and the Lindisfarne Special Protection Area. The new partnership will co-ordinate management for the entire network of inshore marine nature conservation designations between Fast Castle Head in Scotland, and the River Tyne in England.
Partnership members include statutory regulators such as Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Environment Agency and Marine Scotland, together with ports and harbours, local authorities, Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, and conservation charities. Working together, the partnership will develop a toolkit to help manage this suite of important marine areas.
Farmers in Northumberland are being offered an opportunity to take advantage of grants to help them protect and improve water quality and modernise their farms and equipment through a scheme run by Northumbrian Water.
The Pestiwise programme has been designed to encourage people working near or around rivers in the Tynedale area, especially farmers, to help improve water quality and meet environmental standards. By working together with farmers, Northumbrian Water is keen to reduce levels of pesticide that enter watercourses. The company is supporting changes in the ways farmers spread slug pellets, and encouraging a change in the type of pellets they use, both of which are key to meeting environmental standards. Farmers in the area can apply for grants of up to £15,000 to cover up to 75% of the cost of precision slug pellet spreading equipment. Pestiwise offers support, including assessments of current pesticide use, management and handling, training, guidance and solutions to reduce pesticide from entering water, and more
Read more at: https://www.nwl.co.uk/media-centre/611_5495.aspx
The MMO (Marine Management Organisation) has approved an application for a grid-connected tidal energy development off the Isle of Wight coast. The application, from Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre Ltd, includes activities relating to the construction and operation of a tidal energy centre approximately 2km offshore from St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight. Upon construction the development may export energy generated into the electricity network via an onshore substation.
The application was originally made in late 2014. Since then the MMO has been working with interested parties to address comments and concerns regarding the project. This has included resolving issues such as possible risks to navigation, including recreational boating activities, following consultation with organisations such as the Royal Yachting Association, Trinity House and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The MMO also considered concerns about the visual impact of the development. The application is available on the MMO’s public register (ref MLA/2014/00563). More information about the project is available on the developers’ website and also the Isle of Wight Council website.
Read more at:
The UK River Prize celebrates the achievements of those individuals and organisations working to improve the natural functioning of our rivers and catchments, and recognises the benefits to society of having a healthy natural environment.
The Rivers Eden, Derwent and Kent have won this year’s honours following an excellent demonstration of working in partnership to deliver improvements across three catchments, resulting in a healthier and better functioning river environment. They also receive £5,000 to go towards furthering the work on their rivers. The Cumbria River Restoration Strategy (CRRS) is a partnership project between Natural England, the Environment Agency and three Rivers Trusts (Eden, West Cumbria and South Cumbria). The partnership implements river restoration across three river catchments.
Read more here: http://www.therrc.co.uk/uk-river-prize
Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) has created a new on-line regulatory toolbox for the aquaculture industry in England and is hosted on the SEAFISH website. The tool was funded by Defra to support new start-up aquaculture businesses.
Before the toolbox, information about regulations was scattered over the web. So now this single portal gives access to all the information required to set up an aquaculture farm from scratch.
Buying fish through illegitimate sources damages the fishing industry, fish stocks and the long term future of the marine environment says Phil Haslam, Director of Operations at the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). They are working with the Angling Trust, the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) and fish and chip shops across the country via the Seafish website to encourage people to be vigilant about the sources of seafood they buy.
Under the Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers Regulations 2005, enforced by the MMO, you can buy small quantities of fish for your own personal consumption direct from a registered and licensed fishing vessel. Catch caught from recreational fishing activities cannot legally be sold and you should not buy this. This is not simply a question of legality; the MMO want people to be sure they are getting quality produce and the scheme also aids traceability of fish from the point it was brought ashore. Seafood with questionable provenance may not only have legal and environmental implications, it could also be of low quality. The Fish Register website provides a list and contact details of registered buyers and sellers of first-sale fish.
More information on the campaign and guidance on the purchasing of seafood is available from www.gov.uk/mmo or by contacting the MMO on 0300 1231032.
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is a large species of seaweed originating from the Pacific and is considered by the IUCN Invasive Specialist Group to be one of the 100 'world's worst' invasive species, due to its potential to impact ecological and economic interests. Scientists do not currently believe that the true spread of the species is known for Great Britain and North West Europe and producing an accurate distribution of this species is important in terms of managing and controlling spread.
‘Wakame Watch’ has been established in order to generate an up-to-date picture of the distribution of the species, by encouraging recording of sightings from the public; in particular, we are asking divers, snorkelers, recreational boat users, fishermen and environmental surveyors to let us know when they encounter the species.
The UK Lakes Portal is a new online gateway to discover the lakes of the United Kingdom, linking data from many institutions into one national hub. With more than 40,000 lakes represented, a third of those with detailed information on their catchments, the scale of this new portal hosted by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is unprecedented for freshwater research in the UK.
The portal includes physical, environmental, and water chemistry data compiled from an extensive set of sources over many years. In addition, integration with the National Biodiversity Network displays biology data, while anyone can observe and record species observations at any lake in the UK, using iRecord to contribute new information. Alongside development of the portal, a comprehensive freshwater species list for the UK has been created, including information on non-native species. This will be integrated into the portal as part of a move to create an extensive Natural Capital Hub for UK lakes, aligning the portal with a landscape approach to ecological research.
Source of information: http://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/uk-lakes-portal-40000-lakes-at-your-fingertips
Access the Lakes Portal here: https://eip.ceh.ac.uk/apps/lakes/
Producing the first marine plan for England (April 2014) was a daunting task for the MMO (Marine Management Organisation). It was the culmination of years of work, learning and testing what a marine plan needs to be, and developing knowledge and expertise on a new approach to managing our seas. Building on the experience of the East Marine Plan, the South Marine Plan takes marine planning to the next stage. This is now in final draft stages before going out for public consultation this summer.
This takes us into the next phase of marine planning – developing plans for the north east, south east, south west and north west marine areas. MMO will be developing marine plans for the four areas simultaneously. Many issues within the marine environment are shared across all areas – for example the impact of climate change. By working on the four areas together it will allow MMO to develop a common approach to these issues, allowing more time and resource to focus on the more localised issues.
MMO will be starting this process very soon, with public consultation on the statements of public participation (which sets out how and when we will be engaging with stakeholders). This has included a number of events which took place across the plan areas in April.
By 2021 all areas of the English coast will have a marine plan – this will be a significant step and will ensure our seas continue to provide us with a rich and diverse environment and economy.
Read the full blog at:
The presence of plastics, particularly microplastics, in the environment has received increasing attention in recent years, with the UK government launching an inquiry last month (closed 15 April). Microplastics are particles of plastic smaller than 5mm, often containing a range of toxic chemicals. They are not new pollutants, but it is only recently that we have begun to understand the scale of the problem. They are introduced to the environment either directly, such as via toiletries or cleaning products, or indirectly via the breakdown of larger plastic products, of which around 300 million tonnes are manufactured globally. Approximately 80% of microplastics in marine environments come from activities on land.
A study published in January 2016, found that oysters ingested 69% of the microplastics (6 µm) that they were exposed to and had lower reproductive capabilities. Others estimate that 90% of seabirds may have plastics in their gut, giving a stark insight into the extent of the plastic pollution and its presence in the food web. Tackling the complex problems of microplastic pollution will require numerous policy interventions. See this piece written by Matt Turley of the University of Brighton and policy intern at the Royal Society of Biology:
The Environmental Audit Committee has called for evidence on the environmental impact of microplastics. Key issues include: the scale, sources and consequences of microplastic pollution in the ocean, strategies for dealing with the problem, and the state of our knowledge on the issue.
Microplastics come from a variety of domestic and industrial applications. They are used in some cosmetic products as exfoliation beads. Other sources include fibres from clothes, particles from tyres, and abrasive sandblasting. These microplastics can’t be fully filtered out by waste water treatment, so are released into the sea. Other microplastics result from the breakup of larger plastic objects in oceans. It is estimated that there are around 250,000 tons of plastic in the oceans (Erikson et al 2014). Risks to human and animal health are currently uncertain.
In the USA recent legislation introduced a phased ban of microbeads smaller than 5mm in personal care products. Some companies in the UK and Australia have begun to voluntarily phase out microbeads in their products. The gathered evidence will be published by the Environmental Audit Committee in due course.
Click here to find out more.
This guidance explains how to assess the risk of an activity and decide whether it supports the objectives of your local River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) or meets sustainability criteria. You need to show the Environment Agency that your activity supports the objectives of your local River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) or meets strict sustainability criteria.
You must follow this guide if you are applying for a bespoke permit and one of the following apply:
1. You are applying for a permit for a flood risk activity permit for one of the following types of activity:
2. Your activity could affect a water body that is at high status or high status morphology. Environment Agency staff can advise you if this is the case.
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is nearing the conclusion of a review of all disposal sites in England. The MMO commissioned Cefas to undertake a high level review of all disposal sites around the country. This review is a desk- based review focussing on marine disposal sites in English waters. It will make recommendations on how the MMO manage disposal activities.
The MMO licenses disposal at sea under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Such activity is usually licensed at a number of disposal sites that have been in use for longer than 10 years. Given recent events such as the designation of Marine Conservation Zones, European Marine Sites, and the development of marine plans, the MMO is keen to understand the current sensitivities around all disposal sites and to review their current management strategy. It is expected that the review will be completed around the end of May 2016 and the MMO intend to communicate the findings of the review and how they are taking any recommendations forward on its website.
The Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) and the Lakes Aquarium have opened a new ‘Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers’ exhibit at the Lakes Aquarium. Freshwater pearl mussels have been native to our rivers since the last Ice Age. This exhibit showcases the amazing work going on across Cumbria and England to safeguard our remaining populations.
Visit the exhibition to find out more about this intriguing species and its fascinating life cycle, the threats currently facing the freshwater pearl mussel and the flagship, Biffa Award funded project ‘Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers in England’ lead by the FBA in collaboration with partners Devon Wildlife Trust, North York Moors National Park Authority and South and West Cumbria Rivers Trusts.
To read more click here
The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) 2015 Great British Beach Clean event has been yet another record breaker. In 2014, 5,349 volunteers took part but that record was smashed in September 2015 when 6,035 of you headed to the beach - the most in the MCS’s 22 year history of organising clean-ups. Another record was broken too, but not such a good one. In 2014 they found 2,457 pieces of litter on every kilometre of beach that was cleaned - the highest amount since they began their annual September cleans. But in 2015 it got worse, with 3,298 items picked up per kilometre surveyed. MCS say that it’s a damning indictment that current legislation to stop litter reaching the sea isn’t working.
Bottles are the story of this year’s Great British Beach Clean, with almost 100 being found on every kilometre that was cleaned. In this year’s report you’ll find out how some beach data is helping to show how UK governments are performing when it comes to European litter targets.
MCS look forward to seeing you this year, on 16th–19th September!
To read more on this story click here
Rivers across England could benefit from new government plans to help address declining freshwater fish stocks so that native species can thrive. Migration within rivers and between rivers and the sea is an important part of the lifecycle of many species of fish native to England. But these journeys can be impeded by structures such as weirs or water intakes, hampering fishes’ efforts to reproduce or feed.
The government is now setting out proposed new legislation to remove obstructions or build fish passes to provide a route around or through these hurdles. These passes already exist on some rivers across the country, as do protective screens to stop fish getting trapped in water intakes – but more action is needed.
New legislation to facilitate fish passage could help recover stocks of species such as salmon. The new five-point approach to salmon conservation developed by the Environment Agency and partners including The Rivers Trust sets out measures to benefit salmon including reducing exploitation by nets and rods, removing barriers to migration and enhancing habitats, improving water quality, safeguarding sufficient flows and improving marine survival to increase stocks.
Read the full news story here:
This website, targeted at river restoration practitioners across Europe, explains how river preservation and restoration are carried out in France and gives access to practical and technical resources.
Several centuries of direct and indirect human actions on streams and rivers have led to considerable, and even irreversible, degradation of their ecological state. Implementing river restoration is an important way to address these issues. Restoration refers to a large variety of measures and practices, which can vary considerably in size, ambition and complexity. These are aimed at restoring the natural state and functioning of the river system to support biodiversity, and to enable its sustainable and multifunctional uses.
Awareness of this degradation was one of the factors leading to the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive in 2000, which sets out ambitious objectives for the ecological status of rivers. The implementation section provides an overview of the transposition of this regulatory framework in France, the tools used and stakeholders involved, in addition to some information on the implementation of the Flood Directive in France.
Procter & Gamble to eliminate phosphates from dishwasher tablets globally
(Posted 8 June 2016)
Consumer goods firm Procter & Gamble has announced a new innovation which will end phosphate use from all retail and Professional Fairy dishwasher tablets by 2017, significantly reducing the environmental footprint of its products in addition to improving cleaning performance.
P&Gs’ breakthrough advancement will end the need for consumers to pre-rinse dishes, which has the potential to save 21bn litres of water annually. According to the company, more than 4,500 tonnes of phosphates will be saved in the UK alone, while Fairy users choosing not to pre-rinse dishes could make a total water savings of 820m litres.
Aquaculture is facing a new era of expansion in Europe. What are the environmental implications of this, and how can the sector expand sustainably? This Future Brief presents an overview of research into aquaculture’s impacts, and considers how it could develop in harmony with environmental goals.
The EU’s Blue Growth Strategy identifies aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants — as a sector which could boost economic growth across Europe and bring social benefits through new jobs. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy also aims to promote the sector and EU Member States are currently developing national aquaculture strategies.
Presently, a quarter of seafood products consumed in the EU (including imports) are produced on farms; there are over 14,000 aquaculture enterprises in the EU, directly employing 85,000 people in total. In contrast with other regions of the world, aquaculture production is stagnating in the EU, while imports are rising. At the same time, there is a growing gap between the amount of seafood consumed in the EU, and the amount caught from wild fisheries. The European Commission calls for this gap to be partly filled with environmentally responsible aquaculture (European Commission, 2013). Aquaculture thus has an important role to play in Europe’s food security as well as its economic growth.
From 20 April to 10 July 2016, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration of the US) and partners will conduct the three-cruise Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect critical baseline information of unknown and poorly known areas in and around the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
You can follow the adventure by clicking here:
Most eyes are on the UK’s EU ‘in-or-out’ referendum, but meanwhile our MEPs are considering important fisheries decisions – namely whether we act now to place urgent limits on deep sea bottom-trawling. Over the next few weeks (or possibly months), European representatives should, after years of negotiation and political delays, decide how best to regulate the damaging effects of deep sea bottom-trawling across European waters and to sustainably manage vulnerable deep-sea fish.
Deep sea bottom-trawling is a form of fishing that tows weighted nets across the seafloor at depths well beyond the continental shelf. Due to the serious damage it can cause to fragile marine ecosystems, scientists across Europe have called for it to be banned. However, deep sea trawling is still permitted across large areas of our shared waters.
Scotland’s sea area comprises 10% of Europe’s marine EEZ and some of its most productive waters. Scottish and other UK MEPs could therefore play a role in shaping the views of European Parliament about ongoing proposals to regulate deep sea trawling. The proposed regulation to reform the management of deep-sea fisheries has collectively become known as the ‘deep sea file’ which has had a tortuous and controversial passage through our European law-making institutions.
Read more at:
Although microbeads from rinse-off cosmetics have received a lot of attention lately, the tiny plastics most often being found in seafood is a different kind of synthetic. This video looks at marine life in the US and Australia to find out what kind of plastics escape household drains and what sort of damage they can do.
In the context of this initiative, it is a requirement for a European Member State to transmit information to the European Commission as a mean to demonstrate successful implementation. The information is the result of monitoring this implementation, and it is the monitoring that provides the evidence base for implementation and policy making. Hence, the Fitness Check will cover both reporting and monitoring as a way to better support implementation.
Why a Fitness Check? Because environmental monitoring and reporting can:
Read more at:
This money is being made available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Innovation in sectors such as aquaculture, biotechnology or ocean energy is vital for the blue economy to thrive. However, a number of bottlenecks are currently holding back this drive for innovation. They include a lack of highly skilled professionals, under-investment in knowledge and technology, and slow progress from research results to the commercial stage.
The investment will comprise three calls for proposal:
Source of information: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-1228_en.htm
22 March marked the UN's World Water Day. The Edie news site rounded up all the latest company announcements and industry statistics that together highlight how critical the issue of water scarcity has become.
Invasive alien species pose a threat to biodiversity, human health and the economy. This study describes six alien species indicators for Europe, showing that the scale and impact of biological invasions are increasing across all indicators. The societal response has also increased in recent years. The researchers say their framework could serve as a basis for monitoring the efficacy of recent EU legislation.
Read more here
The recent reform of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy introduced a landing obligation for all EU fishing vessels for certain species and fisheries starting from 2015. This discarding prohibition is an important example of a recent trend in fisheries management to limit discarding, reflecting successful public opinion campaigns that see it as a waste of resources. Its primary objective is to reduce unwanted catch, while at the same time promoting sustainable fisheries by reducing fishing mortality of low commercial value sizes and species.
Lisa Borges (FishFix) discusses the issue further in her article in the news section of the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) website.
PROJECTS & RESEARCH
The fisheries charity states: For the first time our once pristine, gin-clear English chalk streams and rivers have been put under the microscope in a national survey to investigate whether they are as healthy as they should be. And the results are truly shocking. The 2015 Riverfly Census has identified that there were only 14 pristine sites which were not impacted, out of a total of 120 sites sampled in the survey on rivers across England.
According to Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, the threat to our rivers has moved from industrial pollution to a range of subtler but equally damaging impacts from sources such as agricultural and road run-off, poorly treated sewage, septic tanks and discharges from watercress and fish farms. Although these forms of stress are less dramatic than fish-killing chemical spills, the long-term effects on riverfly life are equally profound. The study was carried out on 120 sites in seven rain-fed rivers and five chalk streams across the country.
Read the full report here: http://www.salmon-trout.org/pdf/Riverfly_Census_2015.pdf
Source of information: http://www.salmon-trout.org/news_item.asp?news_id=393
When different users are in competition for a limited public resource, how can we determine best value for society? Using a range of social, economic and environmental criteria for the Scottish Nephrops fishery, this report (from the New Economics Foundation) finds that for inshore waters, the creel fishery provides better value to Scotland than the trawl fishery. Allocating fishing opportunities to the creel fishery in the form of preferential access to crowded inshore waters would support the creeling fleet and provide a necessary lifeline for highly-dependent rural communities, especially on the West coast of Scotland.
Nephrops norvegicus (sold as scampi or langoustine) is one of the most valuable fisheries for the Scottish economy, with a landed value of £75 million in 2014. The Nephrops fishery is also significant in terms of contributions to coastal employment and Scottish exports. There are two main fishing gears that target Nephrops, one is mobile (trawling) and the other is static (creels). In Scottish inshore waters, gear conflict between trawlers and creelers, often in the form of lost or damaged equipment, has increased to such a degree that the Scottish government set up a gear conflict task force in 2013. This conflict, the so-called ‘prawn wars’, has increased the need for a holistic approach to determine how the government should manage access to inshore waters for fishing.
Access the full report here:
Sharks aggregate in ‘hotspots’ in the North Atlantic Ocean and are at risk from overfishing by longliner vessels that target the same areas for fishing, a recent study has concluded. Researchers found that the shark and fishing-fleet ranges overlapped by 80% in the North Atlantic and call for international regulation of shark catches to protect at-risk shark populations.
Pelagic sharks (those that live in the open sea) are top predators, whose populations around the world are threatened by overexploitation. This is of concern, as declining shark populations are expected to significantly affect the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. Longliner fishing vessels (greater than 15 m in length) use baited lines (typically between 80–100 km long, carrying thousands of hooks) to catch fish such as tuna and swordfish, but also sharks, principally for their fins. Non-target species (including some non-target sharks) are also indiscriminately caught on the longlines. Longliners are likely to target ocean areas which are the preferred habitats of sharks, but the extent of overlap between longliner fishing and shark ranges has not previously been well known.
Read more here
A new study has found that mercury levels in bream (Abramis brama) collected from six European sampling sites from 2007 to 2013 exceeded the Water Framework Directive’s safety limit for fish in all but one site in 2012. The findings suggest greater efforts need to be made to prevent mercury pollution.
The Environmental Quality Standards Directive sets an environmental quality standard for mercury in fish, intended to protect top predators from secondary poisoning through bioaccumulation. To assess mercury levels in fish across Europe, researchers selected six freshwater and estuary sites: the rivers Scheldt (Netherlands), Rhône (France), Göta älv (Sweden), Tees (UK), and Mersey (UK), and Lake Belau (Germany). The researchers tested mercury levels in bream from these sites. During the sampling period, mercury levels increased in the Scheldt, Göta älv and Mersey rivers. The only significant decrease was in the Rhône, which also showed the greatest initial contamination.
Read more here
Recent research has shown that oysters exposed to polystyrene microplastics produced fewer offspring, which were also smaller and slower growing than offspring from unexposed oysters. The researchers say their study adds to growing evidence of the harm caused by microplastic pollution and can help stakeholders to take action on plastic debris entering the oceans to limit its long-term impact on marine life.
Polystyrene is one of the most commonly used polymers worldwide, and is often found in microplastics sampled at sea. Filter-feeders, such as oysters and mussels, which obtain their food by filtering phytoplankton from copious amounts of water, are particularly susceptible to consuming large quantities of microplastics along with their food. Oysters and other filter-feeders perform a vital role in coastal and estuarine environments by removing nutrients and algae from water and improving overall water quality. This study investigated the effect of microplastic pollution on Crassostrea gigas, the Pacific oyster. Found in the temperate regions of the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the most commonly produced species of oyster in the world. It is widely cultivated along coastal areas of Australia, New Zealand and North America, as well as many areas of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK.
Read more here
Oestrogens are hormones that can enter the aquatic environment after excretion by humans and animals, causing ‘feminisation’ of male fish. This study carried out a risk assessment for oestrogen-like endocrine disruption in the UK in the 2050s, based on likely changes to the human population, river flows and temperature. The authors found that risk is likely to increase under future conditions and recommend further research to assess whether improving sewage treatment could reduce oestrogen pollution.
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The first year of the UK’s largest ever metaldehyde-free farming trial has seen a 60% drop in levels of the chemical detected in reservoir tributaries. Farmers within the natural catchments of six reservoirs in Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have been working with Anglian Water’s team of advisors over the past year on the ‘Slug It Out’ campaign. The area covers more than 7,000 hectares and as part of the campaign all farmers have agreed to use alternatives to metaldehyde to control slugs on their land.
The trial was launched to look at how levels of metaldehyde in rivers and reservoirs could be brought below the strict European standard of 0.1 micrograms per litre in treated water. In the past, levels in reservoirs in our region regularly exceed this and removing metaldehyde through treatment is currently not possible. The average levels of metaldehyde in reservoir tributaries across all the catchments fell by 60%, while the average peak levels detected within the reservoirs fell by 26%.
The non-restricted production and use of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) has led to their presence in effluents from treatment plants, which can pose a threat to aquatic organisms downstream. This study analysed the breakdown of six common chemicals in four Danish treatment plants. The findings shed new light on the factors affecting removal of PPCPs from waste, showing that the composition of waste is more important than the design of the treatment plant.
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These priorities set out some of the big research questions facing the Environment Agency in delivering their duties and protecting the environment and human health. It is intended to inform external researchers and research funders of longer term priorities where they would welcome opportunities to work in partnership.
For people in the UK to eat the recommended 280 grams of fish per week, the country would have to rely on aquaculture and increasingly on imports of both wild and farmed fish from poorer countries, this study reveals. This can have social and environmental implications and the researchers urge governments, particularly in developed countries, to consider nutritional advice in a global context, to minimise the impact of fish exports from poorer countries.
To read more click here
The Marine Management Organisation has produced a series of reports addressing evidence to support our decision making. The evidence register contains information about each of these studies including a link to the individual reports and, where relevant, their datasets.
Access the reports here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-projects-register
The objective of this paper is to explore how economics, in conjunction with ecology and other disciplines (ie consilience), can be deployed to support the conservation of marine ecosystem biodiversity, function and services through time, for the benefit of both current and future generations. The paper also demonstrates the considerable progress made in the 60 year following the pioneering works that practicably established the research discipline of fisheries economics. Eight papers explore various social and economic aspects of marine conservation, and address a variety of broad questions.
Read more here: http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v530/p179-182/
Up to 100,000 wildfowl (swans, ducks and geese) are estimated to die each winter in the UK countryside due to lead poisoning from spent gunshot, according to recent research. At least 2,000 tonnes of toxic lead shot pellets is used to shoot live quarry in the UK each year. Most of it is irretrievably deposited on the ground where it can be ingested by birds who mistake it for grit or seeds. A further 3,000 tonnes of lead shot is deposited on clay shooting grounds.
Lead from ammunition can also enter the human food chain when people eat wild-shot game. When lead ammunition passes through an animal it can fragment into tiny pieces that are often too small to be seen or cut out (especially in game birds) and these fragments can be solubilised and absorbed.
WWT, RSPB and the Sustainable Food Trust would like to see lead ammunition phased out by the end of 2017 and replaced with non-toxic alternatives which are effective, affordable and readily available. These figures, which are part of the proceedings of a symposium on the risks from lead ammunition held at Oxford University, draw on hundreds of scientific sources, including research by WWT and RSPB. There is widespread scientific consensus on the evidence of toxic risks from lead ammunition, and the need for it to be phased out.
Access the research here: http://oxfordleadsymposium.info/
Discarding fish back to the sea is considered to be wasteful as many species are returned dead or dying. On 1 January 2014, the latest reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) came into force and with it a discard ban (or landing obligation). The discard ban is being phased in and will cover all quota stocks in EU waters by January 2019. However, research has shown that some discarded fish survive and that in some cases, the proportion of discarded fish that survive can be substantial. Therefore the new policy includes the possibility of exemptions from the discard ban for … species for which scientific evidence demonstrates high survival rates, taking into account the characteristics of the gear, of the fishing practices and of the ecosystem … In these cases it may be beneficial to return catches to the sea to support the stock biomass and the profitability of the fishing industry.
There are some estimated survival rates for discarded fish, but the results vary a lot and they are available for only a few species and fisheries. Many factors, including biological, environmental and technical elements of the capture process, have been identified as affecting the survival of discarded species. More scientific evidence on fishery discard survival rates is needed to consider the specific characteristics of the gear and fishing practices. This evidence will be reviewed by fishery managers and can be used to support exemptions from the landing obligation where it is believed that survival is sufficiently high.
Read about the research in this blog:
Alternative metrics reveal the Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science) research that has received the most online attention during the past year. A study published in Nature detailing the factors that influence the recovery of coral reefs from climate-induced bleaching events has topped a list of the most popular online papers published by Cefas during 2015.
The article took pole position in a top 10 compiled using data generated by Altmetric, a UK based company that tracks and analyses the online activity around scientific and scholarly literature.
Altmetrics or ‘alternative metrics’ are an emerging field of new methods for measuring the use and importance of scholarly articles (think of it as the societal impact of the work). As opposed to more traditional bibliometrics, such as Impact Factor and citations in other journals, altmetrics provide article-level data and are based on new electronic sources of information, such as mentions on social media networking sites, blogs and online news outlets. Such information provides a measure of the immediate impact of the research, with most activity (news reports, blogs and social media activity) occurring within the first few weeks of a paper being published.
Here’s the top 10 list:
Read the full blog at:
Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture), working in partnership with the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, has just completed an extensive monitoring programme to assess the impact of sewage and industrial effluent discharged into Kuwait’s marine environment.
Based in and around Kuwait Bay, the integrated programme included field work, training packages and the analysis of 30 years of historic water quality data. The findings of this joint research programme have just been published in a special issue of Marine Pollution Bulletin ‘An Ecological Assessment of Kuwait’s Marine Environment’
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Widespread use of antibiotics has led to pollution of waterways, potentially creating resistance among freshwater bacterial communities. A new study looked for antibiotic resistance genes in a river basin in Spain, revealing that wastewater discharges can promote the spread of antibiotic resistance in streams and small rivers.
To read more click here
This project investigated how climate change might affect eutrophication risk in rivers across England. Reductions in river flow because of climate change could directly affect the concentration of nutrients and the risk of eutrophication.
Phosphorus is considered the primary driver of eutrophication and this study looked at how future changes in river flow may alter the dilution of phosphorus as a first step to understanding wider eutrophication risk. Changes in phosphorus concentrations during the summer and low flow periods were shown to have greater rates of increase than annual averages.
The work has resulted in a national scale picture of flow-related changes in phosphorus concentrations and indicates where we might need to target intervention to meet phosphorus standards in the future.
News stories include:
The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland have published a series of guidance notes entitled Managing River Restoration: Gearing Up for the Management of River Restoration. These documents will help to equip organisations with the necessary tools for the governance and management of river restoration projects, particularly those that utilise public funds. These guidance notes are intended to promote good practice in this field and outline the procedural requirements that organisations should have in place before embarking on a river restoration project.
To access the guidance, click here:
The River Restoration Centre has just released the first of a number of introductory factsheets, Monitoring and evaluating your river restoration projects. The factsheet provides an introduction to:
Over the next two months they will be releasing further introductory factsheets, including What is river restoration, Understanding your river, and Planning river restoration projects. The new factsheets are part of their support for community-led river restoration, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Find out more about the support they provide to UK trusts, partnerships, and community groups here.
How can we better anticipate environmental changes? In our rapidly changing world, risks occur, from ongoing changes (such as those in relation to climate), to more sudden-onset risks, such as mutating microbial pathogens.
This Future Brief from ‘Science for Environment Policy’ explores some of the tools and approaches that can be used to provide an early warning of environmental risks, including strategic foresight tools, citizen science and state-of-the-art monitoring technologies.
This report provides a global overview and synthesis of studies on perceptions of aquaculture in both developed and developing countries. Its aim is to better understand the main concerns of the public and diverse stakeholder groups. The second part provides recommendations for policy-makers, the industry and other stakeholders on improving public understanding of aquaculture and on the roles various actors can play in this process.
The rapid growth of intensive aquaculture production, in some cases not well planned, has caused concern about environmental impact, human health and social issues. The bulk of global aquaculture production is in Asia. Yet opposition to aquaculture development is strongest in the Western world, where modern aquaculture is still a relatively new industry competing with well-established activities. In addition, the increasing dependence of developed countries on farmed seafood imports from developing countries and insecurity regarding product environmental, social and safety credentials have attracted considerable negative media attention.
Access the report here: http://www.fao.org/3/a-bc015e.pdf
The guide 'Living on the edge' explains your rights and responsibilities of riverside ownership. If you own land or property next to a river, stream or ditch you are a ‘riparian landowner’ and this guide is for you. Click here to access the guide.
This guide explains:
Note: on 6 April 2016, there were some changes to the law that affect this guide.
This guide says you need a flood defence consent from the Environment Agency in some circumstances. Instead, you need an environmental permit from the Environment Agency for work on or near a main river or sea defence.
This report draws on 20 years of work on beavers in Scotland, as well as experience from elsewhere in Europe and North America. It provides a comprehensive summary of existing knowledge and offers four future beaver scenarios for Ministers to consider. It covers a wide range of topics, including beaver interactions with the natural and human environment, and management and legal considerations.
Access the report here
REPORTS FROM EVENTS
The 17th annual RRC Conference in Blackpool was a big success with 300 people attending over the two days. Delegates enjoyed 42 presentations, 33 posters, 5 workshops, 1 site visit and many hours of networking! The first of the outputs are now available and will be added to in the coming weeks.
See the presentations, delegate handbook, posters and photos at: http://www.therrc.co.uk/rrc-annual-conference-2016
This conference of the Europe–International Network of Basin Organisations was held in Greece last October. Almost 200 participants attended, from 32 countries.
Four sessions were held:
Access the presentations here: http://www.riob.org/events/21-24-octobre-2015-thessalonique/communications-papers-765/?lang=fr