NEIFCA History and Background
North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) was established on 1 April 2011 replacing North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee (NESFC) by constitution under provisions contained within the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act. The new Authority has a much wider remit than its predecessor organisation for the sustainable management of sea fisheries resources within its area of jurisdiction. This includes all animals and plants which habitually live or are cultivated in the sea. In delivering this function NEIFCA is required to ensure that all exploitation and development, taking place within its District, is sustainable and socio economic needs are balanced with marine environmental protection. The Authority is also required to balance the needs of all stakeholders exploiting resources within its District and further the conservation objectives of any Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
NEIFCA shares the following national vision with nine other IFCA’s covering the coastal areas of England
“To lead, champion and manage a sustainable marine environment and inshore fisheries, by successfully securing the right balance between social, environmental and economic benefits to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry”.
History of NESFC
NEIFCA’s predecessor organisation, North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee was established by an order of the Board of Trade on 9 July 1890 to manage and conserve fisheries resources between the River Tyne and the Humber Estuary. It was a Joint Committee of 11 coastal Local Authorities, led by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
In the early years of the Committee, one singular Chief Fishery Officer undertook all the fisheries enforcement and compliance work from his home address, covering the entire District by rail. At that time, the fishing industry was much larger and in 1893 comprised over 1840 vessels, providing employment for 10,273 men compared to just 240 licensed vessels and 500 men in 2010. The biggest challenge the Committee faced in the early years was managing a developing inshore steam trawl fishery and its impacts on the smaller vessel operators. To that end the first business of the Committee, on 28 April 1891, was to make a Byelaw prohibiting trawling within the NESFC area. The Byelaw was passed by 16 votes to 3 against and a public enquiry was convened to listen to the objections. Although this Byelaw has altered significantly over the years it is still in existence and some of the original areas, prohibited to trawling, have been retained to this day.
On the day of its inception NEIFCA inherited twenty one fisheries byelaw regulations from NESFC covering a wide range of stocks and fishing methods. All these legacy regulations are currently subject to review by the Authority.
Since 1890 inshore marine management responsibilities have broadened significantly to include a much wider marine environmental remit, particularly since the early 1990’s. These changes have driven a very rapid modernisation process both in terms of staffing resources, accommodation and equipment. Much of this modernisation is the direct result of a long and productive partnership with the lead Authority, East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), a role supported by ten other visionary authorities. This relationship has developed and strengthened over the 120 year history of inshore fisheries management in the region and provides a strong and positive foundation for the new Authority to build on.
In the mid 1970’s one newly appointed NESFC officer wrote:
‘I started my duties on 1 August 1975 and was issued with a lobster measuring stick, net measuring gauges together with a spring balance weighing scale, a telescope and my predecessor’s diary. After a few months the Committee agreed that we should have some form of protective clothing and I was duly issued with a duffle coat’.
By comparison, NEIFCA inherited fifteen staff ranging from a Chief Officer, through to senior managers, fishery officers, administrative support and temporary project officers. All aspects of Authority work are now supported through integrated IT systems and databases including financial management, HR management, document retention and the capture of monthly fisheries catch and effort data. Newly appointed officers are now supplied with a wide range of enforcement and personal protective equipment including the provision of five purpose built vehicles. During 2000, NESFC was awarded the coveted Investors in People (IIP) standard in recognition of the improvements it had made in the personal development of staff and internal management. Since then the Committee has been re-assessed twice against the standard and continues to retain the award. The new Authority will be assessed for the first time against the IIP standard in May 2012.
Over the years NESFC supported the building and commissioning of a number of dedicated offshore patrol and research vessels specified to protect and monitor exploited fish stocks within its District. To see more information visit the Patrol Vessels page.