Project timeline status
Consultation: 27 September 2021 to 8 November 2021
Reporting Listening Phase findings to Members: 15 & 16 March 2022
Click on the headings below to access more information
Introduction to the Listening Phase
The proposed process started with a general evidence gathering exercise or ‘listening phase’ where we gathered the views and ideas from a wide range of stakeholders. Key to this approach was to understand what worked well within the current fisheries management systems and where stakeholders believed changes needed to be made. Specifically, views were sought relating to the use of Regulating Orders or Byelaws as legislative mechanisms, as well as how access to the fisheries could be managed. We also used the ‘listening phase’ to get feedback on the proposed review and management development process.
From 27 September 2021 to 8 November 2021 we contacted by email and e bulletin over 400 stakeholders with an interest in the cockle fishery and the IFCA in general to ask them to engage with us in the first phase of our consultation on the review of the current and development of the future management of the cockle fisheries in our District.
In addition to being given the opportunity to complete a written consultation paper, to best capture views and ideas, a bespoke engagement process was developed, where stakeholders could book a 10-minute slot and give filmed evidence to feed into the review and management development process. The oral evidence sessions ran over 2 days at the Thurrock Hotel, Aveley on 20 and 21 October 2021, and 25 people gave evidence to a panel of KEIFCA Authority members.
Listening phase responses
Two hundred and two questionnaires were emailed and fifty three paper versions delivered or posted to stakeholders.
From these fifty completed questionnaires were returned, together with two letters, which can be found below:
Oral evidence hearings
This evidence was recorded and filmed to allow us to create a true and accurate account of each participants’ views and, for those participants who agreed, to allow people not able to attend the session to hear the views expressed.
KEIFCA oral evidence panel
John Nichols (Chair) – John has worked professionally in the boat building and fishing industry since 1972. He has been chairman of Thanet Fishermen’s Association for the past 22 years and has served as a member of the IFCA and the previous Sea Fisheries Committee for the same period of time. John is currently Vice Chairman of the IFCA.
Tanya Ferry - Tanya has worked in estuaries for over 15 years, principally working on the Thames as an EA fisheries officer before moving to the Port of London. Here she works on environmental impact, policy and regulation, working with businesses across the estuary. Tanya is also a trustee of a marine conservation charity and runs a small local foundation working on the Medway and the Thames.
Eden Hannam (20 October only) – Eden currently works for Defra as a Senior Policy Advisor in Marine Planning and Licencing, having previously worked for the World Wildlife Fund as head of Marine Policy and Eastern IFCA where he spent time as the CEO.
To mirror the written questionnaire that also formed part of the consultation process, the oral evidence panel asked the same 4 questions (covering each of the 4 technical sections of the questionnaire) to each participant. After these questions, there was an opportunity for any further comment from the participant as well as the ability for the panel to ask any further follow up questions.
1) Have you got any comments or thoughts on how the cockle fisheries are run and managed at present?
2) What issues do you think KEIFCA should consider or prioritise in developing new regulations?
3) How do you think permissions, like permits or licences, should be issued and what criteria do you think needs to be met by an applicant, to allow access the cockle fisheries in the KEIFCA district?
4) Do you have any thoughts or comments on the proposed process KEIFCA has outlined for reviewing and developing new cockle management?
The evidence given has also been edited to produce a summary film that aims to capture the range of different opinions from stakeholders. The film should not be viewed on its own but rather as a complementary piece to the individual stakeholder films below. KEIFCA members will consider the evidence provided on this site in conjunction with the results of the written questionnaires when they next meet on 26 November 2021 at Chelmsford BC, Essex.
Individual stakeholder views - Oral Evidence Hearing
Individual stakeholder views
This evidence was recorded and filmed to allow us to create a true and accurate account of each participants’ views and, for those participants who agreed, to allow people not able to attend the session to hear the views expressed. The question buttons provide viewers with a short cut to move straight to answers to specific questions. We would however suggest that viewer watch the whole film to ensure that any answer is not taken out of context.
Feedback from the Listening Phase
Feedback from the Listening Phase
- In general, there was positive feedback from most stakeholders on how the current TECFO fishery is managed and run on a day-to-day basis. Some individual comments were made concerning how annual surveys are currently undertaken, fishers having a clearer understanding of MPA assessments and the role of Natural England, and one response felt enforcement approach of KEIFCA was too heavy handed.
- Feedback on the current Cockle Fishery Flexible Permit Fishery was generally a lot less positive than for the TECFO fishery, with most fishers feeling that it did not work very well in its current state. There were a range of suggestions on how the fishery could be changed in a future management system.
- Feedback from both the oral evidence and written questionnaires from most of the people currently involved in the TECFO fishery (across the spectrum of roles from crew to company directors) was that the fishery worked very well under the current management set up. Examples were given of the level of investment and jobs the current TECFO supported both at sea and onshore (both cooking and processing cockles and maintaining boats and equipment). Several industry members highlighted the importance of long-term stable access arrangements to the fishery in helping business invest in skilled staff, well maintained fishing vessels and in some cases new local processing plants. A number of fishers made the point that a lot of the current success of the TECFO fishery was down to the investment made by TECFO licence holders, and not just those currently working, but in some cases investment over several generations of a family. The importance of the cockle fishery to the local coastal community with regards to tourism was also highlighted as well as the importance of achieving Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation for the fishery.
- Fishers not currently holding one of the 14 licences currently issued to work in the TECFO or working for a company that does, had a very different opinion of the current TECFO management, and felt that the current system was a monopoly that they were excluded access to, and making a living from. There were a number of strongly expressed voices that made the point that re-issuing TECFO licences for another 30 years would exclude a whole generation of fishermen from this fishery and that looking at the age of the current licence holders it was unlikely that many of them would still be actively fishing in 30 years’ time.
- There was a significant interest from local Thames fishers currently not involved in the cockle industry to create a new small scale cockle fishery set up in a different way to current suction dredge fishery where fishers could use their current under 10m boats and land much smaller amounts of cockles per trip (1½ to ½ tonnes per trip). Some fishers felt there were new opportunities to sell these cockles on their fish stalls or into specific local markets.
- Effort was made throughout the listening phase to not only engage with fishermen based in the district but fishermen from the Wash that have actively fished for cockles in areas outside the TECFO since the 1990s. From the fishers that engaged in the Listening Phase, some of the general feedback echoed many of the points already made, that the TECFO fishery was well run but could be open to more operators and that the permit fishery did not work very well for their current business setup. Ideas were put forward as to how future management could create a larger TECFO area with more licences.