By Andy Hargreaves

IFCA Officer Steve Watt

IFCA Officer Steve Watt

Scilly’s Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority are hoping to tap into some unexpected government funding to carry out survey work around the islands.

IFCA officer Steve Watt met the Fisheries Minister George Eustace last week with Cllr Andy Guy.

The Minister offered the ten regional authorities up to £300,000 of new cash during the meeting in London.

Steve says that could mean up to £40,000 for Scilly if they can submit a good enough business case.

It can only be used to fund revenue costs, like extra staff, and not new equipment.

But Steve says the money could help our IFCA gather the evidence needed to show that local fishing practices aren’t damaging our sensitive marine conservation zones.

The IFCA has identified a number of sites around the islands, some heavily fished and others untouched, which they want to compare.

Steve says the data will show whether potting and netting is harming the underwater environment in any way.

Wildlife Trust Chairman Tim Alsop has been collecting survey data for the IFCA for some time, free of charge and Steve feels this could be a good opportunity to properly fund that work.

The business case needs to be submitted before the start of the election period in May, when many government departments will shut down their usual work.

Steve says the survey won’t affect local fisherman – in fact he’s hoping it will show how well managed our fisheries actually are.