IFCAs: Stakeholder Perceptions of Roles, and Legal Impact

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Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) established pursuant to the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 became operational in April 2011. IFCAs change the face of English fisheries' management: they retain local authority and industry representation, but a broader base of expertise in marine conservation and other marine stakeholder interests is provided for. Ultimately it is hoped that this will enable a true ecosystems approach to marine management to fl ourish in UK inshore waters. As a sector beset with considerable and competing interests, a broadening of the interest groups involved in regulatory decision making has been the preferred solution to promote such an approach and to move towards the ultimate goal of sustainable fisheries - using that term in its broadest sense. The aim is for IFCAs to overcome the more limited scope of the predecessor structures, the Sea Fisheries Committees, and to contribute to a contemporary, open and inclusive governance model. The researchers approached IFCA members and sought to establish how they envisaged their role in relation to a number of criteria as they embarked upon their management role. The article is intended to provide a snapshot of aspirations and initial perceptions of the IFCA as a more functional marine management model. A mix of views was discovered with an overall cautiously positive sense coming out of the respondents, who nonetheless were very aware of the challenges presented to improving inshore fi sheries sustainability in the context of regional, European Union driven policy imperatives and regulation

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