NEIFCA Humber Estuary Byelaw XXIX – Review

Posted on 22nd November 2022

Informal Consultation Drop-in Event 30th November – Spurn Point Discovery Centre

NEIFCA Humber Estuary Byelaw XXIX – Review of Protected Seagrass Area

The Humber Estuary Fishing Byelaw XXIX was introduced in 2014 under the revised approach to protect a bed of dwarf eelgrass Zostera noltei present along the intertidal grounds at Spurn Point from fishing activity and bait digging. These eelgrass beds provide key ecosystem services including nursery and refuge grounds for fish, foraging grounds for birds, sediment stabilisation, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. However, this species is highly sensitive to smothering from shifting sediment which can be caused by disturbance from fishing activity, bait digging and natural erosion.
Annual surveys of the eelgrass bed have been conducted in conjunction with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since the introduction of the byelaw, with data compared across years to determine the stability (number of years present) of the eelgrass bed. The initial boundary of the protected areas was defined based on the presence of the eelgrass bed in 2014. There is now sufficient data to indicate stable presence of eelgrass outside the existing protected area. To ensure sufficient protection of the designated feature NEIFCA propose altering the offshore extent of the protected area.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 requires that the IFCA exercise its functions, which are relevant to marine conservation, so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats and Birds Directives. Altering the boundary of the protected area to encompass the known distribution of Z. noltei ensures continued compliance with the Regulations.
This revised boundary will provide a buffer for new growth and further expansion of the eelgrass bed in the future should the distribution of the species continue to increase. The Humber Estuary Fishing Byelaw XXIX provides a local measure that compliments national regulations in achieving sustainable management, through the protection of designated habitats and species.

Figure 1. Spurn Point Seagrass Area with the boundary of the current protected area within the Humber Estuary Byelaw XXIX (black), the proposed extension to the Spurn Point Seagrass Area (red) and the stability of eelgrass (Z. noltei). Data derived from annual surveys undertaken between 2013 and 2022.

NEIFCA will be holding an informal consultation drop-in event at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Spurn Discovery Centre on:
Wednesday 30th November 2022 from 10:00am until 3:30pm.
We welcome any members of the public who would like to find out more information and engage in discussion.

Alternatively if you are unable to attend the event, but would like to participate in the informal consultation, please see below questionnaire which can be downloaded and returned via email to or to NEIFCA, Town Hall, Quay Road, Bridlington, YO16 4LP.

Humber Estuary Byelaw Review Questionnaire

Humber Estuary Byelaw Review Questionnaire

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