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New era for Isle of Man fisheries management

Thursday, 30 November 2023


The Isle of Man has entered a new era in fisheries management, marking a significant milestone in its autonomy over how its sea fishery resources are managed.

It follows the introduction of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)involving the Isle of Man, UK, Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish Governments last week.

The MoU means the Fisheries Management Agreement (FMA) 2012 has been revoked and replaced, redefining the landscape of fisheries governance within Manx waters.

The arrangement shows the five governments are equally committed to mutual consultation and information sharing on changes in their respective jurisdictions, underpinned by a high-level policy on cooperation, fairness, respect, and reciprocity.

Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) said:

‘It’s a significant step forward for the Isle of Man that will empower the Isle of Man Government to shape local fisheries policies, while fostering collaborative relationships with neighbouring administrations and ensuring the Island upholds its international obligations.’

The MoU is a departure from previous agreements by recognising the Island’s autonomy to develop any aspect of sea fisheries policy within its waters.

The original FMA was established 32 years ago after the extension of the Isle of Man’s territorial sea from three to 12 nautical miles, which necessitated the concurrence of the UK Government for any alterations to fisheries management in the Island’s extended waters.

This arrangement was replaced in 2012 with a deal that allowed the Isle of Man to implement its own changes following consultation, but generally meant it had to align with the UK’s approach under the EU Common Fisheries Policy, rendering the Isle of Man a 'rule-taker' in most areas of fisheries management.

However, despite these constraints, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture has been at the forefront of advancing fisheries management for many years, introducing measures recognized as the most advanced and sustainable in the British Isles.

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