The Falkland Islands Government’s Executive Council has approved the launch of a public consultation on a series of proposed Marine Management Areas (MMAs) in Falklands waters, according to documents published this week.
The consultation is part of a joint project being carried out by the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) and the government. According to the Executive Council paper, the project is part of a suite of work dating back to 2014 and which has focused on “the establishment of Marine Management Areas which seek to balance conservation as a primary objective with the sustainable economic and social development needs of the Falkland Islands.”
Under the planned consultation, the project will now engage with industry associations, NGOs, and the general public to seek views on proposed Marine Management Areas. Two types of Marine Management Areas are defined in the current proposals: National Marine Nature Reserves, which are envisioned as conservation zones; and Sustainable Multi-use Zones, which may allow certain long-term sustainable activities to take place subject to an environmental impact statement.
The consultation proposes five areas as potential National Marine Nature Reserves: the Jason Islands, Kidney & Cochon Islands, Bird Island, Beauchêne Island, and the upper 200m of Burdwood Bank (the part of the bank shallower than 200m).
The two areas proposed as Sustainable Multi-use Zones are: an inshore area extending three nautical miles from the existing Falkland Islands baseline; and the area of the FCZ the east and south of the Burdwood Bank and deeper than 200m. This latter section overlaps with the existing longline fishery licence area, and the paper notes that “sustainable commercial fishing is anticipated to be allowed as a sustainable activity,” adding, “research has shown that this Sustainable Multi-use Zone is unlikely to have an adverse impact on the accredited sustainable fishery that exists in the area. Having a management plan for the area should also enhance the long-term sustainability of the fishery.”
The consultation will also seek views on the flexibility to modify boundaries in the future and a mechanism to allow new Marine Management Areas to be suggested if new evidence comes to light.
Under the proposed timeline, the consultation is set to start in March 2021, and the project aims to submit a final paper on designation of MMAs in 2022.