Duke learns work of fisheries authority

Robert Yorke, left, talks to the Duke of Gloucester about archaeological work               PICTURE: GARY EASTWOOD
Robert Yorke, left, talks to the Duke of Gloucester about archaeological work PICTURE: GARY EASTWOOD

THE Duke of Gloucester learned about marine conservation work during a morning at Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority in Shoreham.

Accompanied by Mrs Susan Pyper, Lord-Lieutenant for West Sussex, he visited the authority’s office next to the River Adur last Wednesday, before boarding its patrol and research vessel Watchful, moored at Shoreham Port.

They were introduced to the authority’s chairman, Tony Delahunty, members and officers.

Tim Dapling, chief fisheries officer, then gave an overview of the authority’s work, including marine research, fisheries and conservation enforcement and efforts to support the development of marine conservation zones off the Sussex coast.

The Duke was given an opportunity to view underwater video footage showing the diversity of marine life on Kingmere Reef, which is expected to be designated as one of the new conservation zones.

Mr Dapling explained the national importance of Kingmere Reef, 10km south-east of Littlehampton, as a site for spawning black bream, and the efforts of the authority to provide evidence to support the site’s designation.

The Duke was keen to understand more about the state of inshore fish and shellfish stocks and how the authority was working to maintain sustainable fisheries throughout Sussex coastal waters.

The authority’s efforts in Chichester Harbour, to manage native oyster fisheries, were also highlighted, following a recent closure of the fishery due to depleted stocks.

Mr Dapling said: “We were delighted to host His Royal Highness and the Lord-Lieutenant, and appreciate the interest shown in the work of the Sussex IFCA.

“The Duke asked some very important and topical questions, including the state of stocks, the impact of climate change on sea temperature and levels of compliance to fisheries regulations.

“Our team are grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of our work in the community.”

Senior fisheries officer Andy McMahon demonstrated various management equipment, including gauges to measure net sizes.

He also explained how minimum fish and shellfish sizes were assessed by inspecting officers.

The Duke, who trained as an architect and went into practice as a partner in a firm of London architects, also learned about archaeological partnership work from Robert Yorke.

On board Watchful, Charlie Hubbard, master of vessels, described the navigation and research systems on the bridge. The Duke was interested to hear how the equipment was used to identify, locate and track vessels in all conditions, both night and day.

As well as the authority’s role for enforcement and research, officers explained how they worked to support organisations that required sea-going capability, such as the police and fire service.

Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has a duty to manage the sustainable exploitation of sea fisheries resources and take steps to protect and promote the recovery of the marine environment.