Abercastle Boat Owners... …Ensuring access to the sea for all

The Welsh Government have proposed the area below including all access to Abercastle as a Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zone


This would mean:

No fishing of any sort – from boats, rocks, shoreline, or beach
No lobster pots-for individuals or commercial
No bait digging - anchoring or mooring - rock pool dipping - collecting seaweed

In addition it could mean:

No kayaking-coasteering-scuba diving
No boat launching with vehicles
No dog walking

Clearly they are not aware of the activities that go on here. We need to tell them, you need to tell them.

Why a HPMCZ?

High Protection Marine Conservation Zones (HPMCZ)

Fisheries Orders:
The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) gave Welsh Ministers powers to put in place orders to manage fisheries. These could be used to:
Exclude all commercial fishing activity within an area
Exclude all recreational fishing/angling activity within an area
Exclude other fisheries activities, such as bait digging, within an area.
The boundaries presented for the 10 potential site options are indicative and do not necessarily represent the size and shape of the final boundary should a site be recommended for designation. The intention is that site boundaries will be modified and refined as a result of information gathered through the iterative consultation process

Welsh Government intends to designate no more than 3-4 sites from 10 potential sites.

The proposed site affecting this area, called ‘SW of Strumble Head’, is from and including all of Abermawr beach, to the Castell Coch headland, west of Abercastle, and extending seaward to cover the reef, as shaded in the map above.

Once designated, the sites will be managed in such a way that all extractive and depositional activity will be prohibited, as will all other damaging or disturbing activities.
An extractive activity is defined as an act that involves the temporary or permanent removal or attempted removal, of any living organism or non-living material or natural feature from the marine environment.
(An exception would be the removal of litter or other anthropogenic (i.e. created by people) debris that is not natural and might otherwise harm the habitats and species they support in the area)

A depositional activity is defined as an act that involves the laying down, movement or discharge of living or non-living materials or substance into the marine environment. This includes deposit of materials such as rocks, gravel or sand building of structures, and the release of any polluting or toxic or chemical substances, as well as the discharge of ballast, untreated human waste, biodegradable and industrial waste and the discard of fish offal and by-catch.

A
damaging activity is defined as an act that potentially results in permanent or temporary physical harm or injury to species, or cause permanent or temporary alteration to natural features within the marine environment. Physical damage would count as something that reduces an organism’s ability to operate in a natural manner or caused impact to the wider marine environment through the alteration or loss of populations or natural features.

A
disturbing activity is defined as an act that interferes with the normal functioning of populations beyond the natural variability of the ecosystem. Disturbing activities may result in short-term distress to a population or longer-term deterioration in the population’s fitness (for example its ability to feed or reproduce successfully).

Activities considered to be depositional or extractive include:

Commercial and recreational fishing activities, including catch-and-release fishing; anchoring; bait collection; aquaculture; collection of flora or fauna; collection of curios; removal or deposit of living or non-living materials; mining; dredging; petroleum/gas operation; discharges (including untreated or treated waste, pollutants, warm water), building of structures; and any other activities that meet the definition of extractive or depositional activities. N.B. This includes depositional or extractive activities that occur outside site boundaries but result in deposition or extraction within site boundaries.

The site is protected from:

a) The temporary or permanent removal, or attempted removal, of any living organisms or non-living materials or natural features from the marine environment;

b) The deposition of living and non-living resources, including the movement or discharge of materials or substances into the marine environment. This includes deposit of materials such as rocks, gravel or sand, building of structures, and release of any polluting, harmful, toxic or chemical substances, as well as discharge of ballast, human waste, biodegradable and industrial waste and the discard of bait and fishing waste;

c) Physical damage or disturbance from human activities including: injury, disturbance while feeding, breeding and resting, abrasion, crushing, smothering, exposure to toxic or harmful substances, exposure to fertilising nutrients, exposure to excessive or disturbing noise, visual disturbance, harassment, physical impact.



Potentially damaging or disturbing activities that
may be excluded, subject to restrictions, zoned, allowed under licence/permit, undertaken according to codes of conduct, or with other mitigating measures in place to limit impacts, include but are not restricted to:

Scientific research and monitoring
Navigation and transit of vessels (including non motorised)
Boating and recreation including the use of rowing boats, kayaks, surfboards, windsurfers, kite-surfing, sailing as well as use of motorised vessels
Wildlife observation
Low flying aircraft
Maintenance/operation of existing structures (including ports and harbours) Petroleum/gas exploration
Military activities
Driving of vehicles across the shore
Recreational activities such as horse riding and dog walking
And any other activities that meet the definitions of being potentially damaging or disturbing. N.B. This includes potentially damaging or disturbing activities that occur outside site boundaries but result in damage or disturbance within site boundaries.


Impacts

There will be a direct impact on all fishing activity in this area as all fishing activity is incompatible with the conservation objectives for HPMCZs and therefore would not be allowed within this area.

There may be off-site impacts on fishing dependant communities and the local heritage of an area if it has a strong fishing history.

There will be a direct impact on all recreational angling activity within this area as all fishing activity is incompatible with the conservation objectives of a HPMCZ.

There will be a direct impact on all anchoring in this area as it is an activity that is incompatible with the conservation objectives for HPMCZs and therefore would not be allowed within this area if designated as a HPMCZ.

The construction/installation of port/harbour facilities is incompatible with the conservation objectives of a HPMCZ and would therefore not be allowed.

There will be direct impacts for some activities in particular anchoring, charter boats for fishing area. There may be other impacts both on and off-site where activities may need to be managed/restricted in line with the conservation objectives of a HPMCZ.


Possible displacement of activities into sensitive areas

In some cases the site boundary initially proposed may displace activities to adjacent areas, which may contain highly sensitive habitats (including habitats on the list of important habitats). If habitats sensitive to the activities that are likely to be displaced are found adjacent to the site boundary then either the extension or redrawing of the boundary to include those habitats should be considered. Local knowledge of the site will need to be used to assess whether displacement of activities is likely to occur.

Fishing interests raised concerns about the impact of displacement resulting in greater competition for fishing grounds and reduction in fishing opportunities.


The Welsh Government will give full consideration to social and economic consequences throughout the site selection process. The aim is to ensure that highly protected MCZs are chosen to maximise benefits (ecological, economic and social) while, as far as possible, minimising any conflict with the different uses of the sea.

Relevant points on selecting SW of Strumble Head:

SW of Strumble Head Site chosen by Marxan in all four grids primarily due to being in the Cardigan region.

Table 2. Targets for each area.
Area Target
North east 413
North west 1851
South Llyn 775
Cardigan 1623
Milford Haven 25
South 2814


The TAG decided to remove 10 sites from consideration in the process for reasons of low habitat heterogeneity or because the site was similar in character but thought to be of lower value (in ecological terms) to another similar site nearby.
The sites that were removed are:

1. North Anglesey
2. Great Orme
3. Porth Nobla
4. South of Aberystwyth
5. Cardigan offshore
6. Skokholm Island
7. Whitford Point
8. Aberthaw
9. Severn
10. SW of Strumble

SW of Strumble Head
Removed due to similarity and proximity to Ramsey and Skomer, with these two sites thought to be the better options, with higher habitat heterogeneity.


The result was a list of 10 Potential Sites based on the ecological assessment

1. Puffin Island
2. Menai Strait
3. North Llyn
4. Bardsey Island
5. Tudwals and Llanbedrog
6. Traeth Afon Wen
7. New Quay offshore
8. Ramsey Island
9. Skomer Island
10. Milford Haven combined


However:


Due to a clear conflict with Welsh Government policy ambitions for marine energy and the planned deployment of a submerged renewable energy device the TAG agreed to recommend that the Ramsey Island site be excluded from further consideration.
As a consequence of Ramsey Island being excluded from the process the
TAG reconsidered the site SW of Strumble Head for inclusion in the first iteration. The site SW of Strumble Head had previously not been selected as it was considered to be similar to the site at Ramsey Island with the Ramsey
Island site being a better example with higher habitat heterogeneity.
The TAG agreed that the site
SW of Strumble Head should be reinstated as a Potential Site on grounds that it is a like for like substitute for Ramsey Island.

So we need you to take part in the WAG consultation process. Please use the form here and feed back your information.