Sustainable fishing and the campaign for living seas

Gurnard on the Maerl in Falmouth dredge channel Gurnard on the Maerl in Falmouth dredge channel

The aim of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Sustainable Fisheries work is to reduce the impact of Devon’s fisheries on our rich and varied marine environment. These impacts include:

  • Over fishing – putting pressure on populations of commercial fish species, running the risk of depleting stocks to a level from with they cannot recover and upsetting marine ecosystems
  • Bycatch – some types of fishing gear pose risks to non-target species such as dolphin and seabirds which can put pressures on local populations
  • Habitat damage – some fishing methods cause significant damage to sensitive seabed habitats and the biological communities they support

There has been progress in reducing these impacts in recent years, but there is still work to be done.

What we are doing

Atlantic mackerel - Hans HillewaertOur Sustainable Fisheries work includes:

  • Supporting Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) as they introduce measures to reduce the impacts of fishing gear on the most sensitive seabed habitats
  • Working with the local fishing industry to identify opportunities for new sustainable fisheries projects, identifying and publicising good practice

Understanding Devon’s fisheries

Fishing boats at BrixhamAs an essential first step, we have been carrying out research into Devon’s fisheries, increasing our understanding of who fishes where, for what and using which fishing methods. From this work we have produced a set of Fisheries Factsheets, summarising the key points of what we have learnt.

Click on 'Read more' to see each factsheet in full:

Setting the scene - productive seas and a healthy marine environment are important to marine organisations and the fishing industry alike. It is important that we understand the context in which fishing business and policy decisions are made. Read more

Devon’s fisheries: an overview - fishing has played a major part in the social and cultural history of Devon and it has also shaped the character of Devon’s coastal communities and built heritage. Read more

Vessel size and quota - quotas control the quantities of fish species that can be landed and have a significant influence on the species that vessels can target. Read more

Fishing vessels and gear - Devon’s fishing industry is made up of a wide variety of different size boats, targeting different species with different gear. Read more

Landings: an overview - the importance of Devon’s fisheries can be assessed by looking at the weight and value of the fish landed. Read more

Landings: species and trends - understanding the mix of species that are landed and how this changes with time helps us understand the potential impacts on populations of different species. Read more

Cuttle pots

Ports and landings: an overview - Devon’s fishing ports range from large 21st century facilities with electronic auctions to coastal villages where fishing vessels are launched off the beach. Read more

Ports: north and south coasts - the ports of the north and south coasts of Devon differ greatly in character and size. Read more

Economics: employment, prices and trends - the final piece in the jigsaw making up the picture of Devon’s fisheries is the economic value that it brings to the county. Read more

Marine Socio-Economic Project (MSEP) factsheets
Devon’s fisheries do not exist in isolation, but sit within a national and international context. A series of factsheets has been produced by the Marine Socio-Economic Project (MSEP), a project funded by The Tubney Charitable Trust and co-ordinated by NEF (New Economics Foundation) with WWF, MCS, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts. Find out more