PATROL: An EIFCA boat on the Great Ouse Picture: Luke Godwin

THE body responsible for keeping our seas and marine life healthy demonstrated its full force this week.

The Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (EIFCA) held its vessel demonstration on the Great Ouse on Wednesday for councillors from counties including Norfolk, members of the public with special knowledge of the inshore environment – including commercial and recreational fishers – and representatives from partner organisations such as Natural England, Environment Agency and the Marine Management Organisation.

Authority members discuss and make decisions in relation to  EIFCA’s wide-ranging remit, which includes protection of the marine environment, such as  marine-protected areas, from fishing activity, sustainable and viable inshore fishing industries and research projects.

The authority vessel day was an opportunity for officers to demonstrate their ‘on-the-ground’ delivery of that enforcement. Inshore fisheries and conservation officers showed the capabilities of the enforcement vessels, including pot hauling and net measuring. Marine science officers gave talks and demonstrations highlighting research equipment, including the side-scan sonar and sonar camera used to map the seabed and detect important habitats and species.

There was also a presentation on the community voice method project which has provided the authority and its officers with a more complete understanding of what is really important to sea users within the area.

EIFCA manages fishing activity six nautical miles out to sea from the coast line from Hail Sand Fort in Lincolnshire to Harwich in Suffolk to ensure long-term, sustainable fisheries which do not impact on protected marine areas by implementing and enforcing fisheries legislation.

The authority was established in 2011 and replaced the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee, itself established in 1894. Under its new title, EIFCA now has additional responsibilities and duties to protect marine-protected areas and the delivery of “healthy” seas.

EIFCA chief executive, Julian Gregory said: “Both the councillors and general members of the authority provide their services on a voluntary basis.  This was an opportunity for members to see what officers are doing to deliver the authority’s business.”

I will send some pictures on this afternoon.