European Marine Sites

The management of commercial fisheries inside European Marine Sites (EMS) has demanded a change in approach in order to fulfil the responsibility to conserve important habitats and species in line with European regulations.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has created a matrix based on a traffic light system outlining the different levels of priority to be given to the management of activities within the EMS. For instance, 'Red' activities such as bottom trawling are regarded as high risk, whereas other activities are regarded as medium risk and given an 'Amber' priority, or if a low risk, then it has a 'Green' category.

'Red' activities should have management measures in place by December 2013, with 'Amber' or 'Green' activities scheduled by the end of 2016. IFCAs will be the regulators for managing the fisheries within their districts.

The link below will illustrate the boundaries of both the European Marine Site (the squared box) and the 11 Marine Conservation sub-sites, ten of which are inside the EMS.

EMS and MCZ boundaries

For more information about the national approach to fishing within an EMS, visit the section of the Marine Management Organisation's web site below:


As bottom-trawling is to be prohibited within European Marine Sites, the Isles of Scilly IFCA has made a Fishing Gear Permit Byelaw that will allow some bottom-trawling from a vessel with light otter gear to take place within sections of the EMS where there are perceived to be no features designated for protection. A full Habitats Regulations Assessment must be carried out first. There are restrictions such as type of gear, size of vessels and the need to have an iVMS fitted. The byelaw, as signed on behalf of the Secretary of State on 31st March is here: Fishing Gear Permit Byelaw

A small local otter trawler is allowed to fish within two restricted areas of the EMS following a successeful Habitats Regulations Assessment, the text of which is here:
SAC HRA for Sowenna 3
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