Delay in roll-out of fishing boat trackers - NIFCA round-up

There has been another delay in the long-expected project to help monitor fishing boats on the English coast.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 09:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 09:55 am
Fishing boats in Seahouses harbour. Picture by Jane Coltman

As previously reported, smaller vessels will have to be fitted with trackers in the coming years.

Currently, the technology is required on boats over 12 metres in length, but it is being extended to all boats through the Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS) project.

The roll-out is set to take place in three stages – nine-metre-plus boats first, followed by six to nine metres and finally six metres and under.

However, at the latest NIFCA quarterly meeting on Monday (April 29), chief officer Al Browne reported that there has been a delay, meaning that the first tranche won’t start until January 2020 at least.

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This is because the project has now gone out for a full procurement exercise due to concerns that it could face a legal challenge.

Chairman Les Weller said: “It’s going to be a long time coming I suspect unfortunately.”

At the January meeting, fishermen raised concerns about the practicalities of the scheme, with one describing it as ‘abhorrent’.

- There are some changing faces at NIFCA, but the chairman and vice-chairman have been re-elected for another term.

Les Weller and Coun Wendy Pattison were both elected unopposed to serve another term, but Mr Weller warned that this would be his last year as chairman and the authority would be facing ‘a sea change’ come 2020.

Mark Lynn, a former Northumbria Police officer, was welcomed as a new IFCO (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officer), replacing another ex-copper, Eric Balsdon, who is leaving NIFCA.

A presentation was made to Mr Balsdon to thank him for his service. “I’ve had 12 fantastic years, I have really enjoyed it,” he said.

Meanwhile, a letter of resignation had been received from the engineer, Justin Cooke, meaning there is a vacancy to fill for that key role. Mr Weller wished him all the best for the future.

- Members of the authority are keen to support a scheme to enable angling line to be recycled.

The Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS) was developed on the south coast and aims to cover braided, mono-filament and fly lines.

ANLRS wants to establish an easy way to discard and reuse these lines to prevent them from ending up in the marine environment.

It is routinely washed up or discarded on beaches and, given its strength and the fact it doesn’t break down easily, is a threat to wildlife.

It was agreed that funding in the region of £500 could be made available to support this initiative in the area and officers are to find out what specific projects could be supported using this money.

- NIFCA is hoping to launch its new patrol vessel at an event in Amble next month.

The organisation is awaiting the delivery of its replacement 9.5metre cabin RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat), which is currently being built down in Yeovil by Ribcraft.

To be named Robert Arckless MBE after the former county councillor who chaired the authority for a number of years, the man himself will do the honours at a ceremony which is set to take place on Friday, June 14, in the Friendliest Port, where the boat will be berthed.

NIFCA officers are due to check on progress during a visit next week, with delivery of the vessel expected by the end of May.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service