Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has been working local fishermen to demonstrate responsible standards whilst caring for the marine environment in Poole Harbour.
Fourteen vessels working the clam and cockle fishery are now certified through the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS). This validation on industry-agreed best practise is thanks to a positive collaboration with Poole & District Fisherman’s Association (PDFA) and Southern Inshore Fishery & Conservation Authority (IFCA) and funded by Resource Legacy Fund and Seafish.
The RFS aligns perfectly with the coveted recent certification for the fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which scrutinises the fishery for environmental sustainability, while their skippers and their vessels have been recognised for their high standards in environmental and social responsibility through the RFS. The MSC blue fish-tick label offers buyers recognition that the shellfish has been caught sustainably, providing traceability from sea to plate.
Rob Clark is Southern IFCA’s Chief Officer, he points to the importance of partnerships in achieving success; “The role of Dorset Wildlife Trust has been really important; the Trust have actively engaged with the development of management and it is a natural progression, that through the partnership, they have supported fishers in gaining recognition for the progress that has been made in developing a sustainable fishery.”
Emma Rance, Marine Conservation Officer for DWT assisted the fishermen with their RFS applications based on her experience managing the Great Dorset Seafood campaign 2011-15. She said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to show how fishermen are working conscientiously to help protect seabed habitats and wildlife. The project has improved dialogue, encouraging the sharing of marine sightings data and resulted in some great working relations.”
The RFS and MSC has allowed a win-win for both conservation and the local economy. Tommy Russell is Chairman of the PDFA and a clam and cockle fisherman. He said, “The partnership has developed a real sense of pride for us all in showing that conservation is a high consideration within the fishing community in Poole. The clam and cockle fishery is the first MSC certified sustainable fishery in Dorset and it is also the first time both MSC and RFS have been awarded to a single fishery globally!”
For more information on the vessels certified under the RFS and the MSC certified Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle fishery visit: http://www.seafish.org/rfs/ and https://fisheries.msc.org/en/fisheries/the-poole-harbour-clam-cockle-fishery/