Fisheries Challenge Fund – Benefits of the Inshore Fleet

The study area is within the boundaries of the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee, and extends from Harwich in Essex in the north, to Ramsgate in Kent in the south. There was no recent review of the fishing fleet and its activities in the greater estuary, and it was proposed to obtain information through site visits and interviews, as well as an analysis of relevant publications and fisheries statistics. The data collection protocol is an extension of a method previously piloted in the estuary for the description and communication of commercial fishing activities and fishermen’s local ecological knowledge. The project studied in detail, fishing practices, made comparisons of the likely relative environmental impacts of large and small vessels in this fishery, assessed the value and extent of the inshore fishery of the Greater Thames Estuary, evaluated the economic benefits of the fishery on the local economy and evaluated the social importance of the fishery relative to the local communities and the benefits to tourism. The survey of fishing vessels based in fishing ports from Harwich in the North, to Ramsgate in the South, took place in October and November 2008. In total, we interviewed owners or skippers of 42 fishing vessels (FV). Of these, 29 were based in Essex and 13 were based in Kent; 35 FV were operating full-time and 7 part-time. Our sample covered more than one in three (35/82) of the FV operating full time, but about one in ten (7/62) of the registered fishing vessels operated seasonally. Hobby or laid up FV are not surveyed. Individual skippers described between 2 and 11 species essential to individual livelihood for the year to December 2007 or 2008 among 20 species of fish, 8 species of shellfish and the whiteweed. There was no difference between vessel sizes for target species within the coastal fleet.