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24 November 2009

Morecambe meeting

Despite the rain, our liaison officers travelled up to Morecambe on Wednesday night to meet local fishermen and yacht club members. Laura Bates reports.
My colleague Emily and I met members of the NFFO West Coast Committee, Morecambe & Heysham Fishermen’s Association, Morecambe Bay Fishermen’s Association and Morecambe & Heysham Yacht Club, for an evening of discussion about marine protected areas in the Irish Sea and what this means for the sea users of Morecambe Bay.  
Robert Whiteley of Natural England started the evening’s presentations by speaking about the proposed special areas of conservation and special protection areas, which are just two of the ways of protecting the marine environment.
Emily and I then gave our presentation introducing marine conservation zones (MCZs). The fishermen were clearly concerned – one commented: “As fishermen of Morecambe Bay we are anxious that the pending MCZs will introduce measures that’ll destroy the inshore fishing fleet.”
Another fisherman even gave up the keys to his boat and left the meeting. However, all were unanimous in their belief that their activities do not cause damage to the bay.
It's important that sea users of the Irish Sea understand that ISCZ are here to support their interests and ensure that the regional stakeholder group has all the information available to them to consider the location, size, shape and conservation objectives of MCZs. 
Many thanks to Mr Trevor Owen of Morecambe and Heysham Fishermen’s Association for organising the evening, and Mr Keith Buyers of the Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club for hosting the meeting (and for making the best cuppa tea around).