Working with the Fishing Industry
The Thames estuary fishery has a long tradition of providing both finfish and shellfish catches. Species such as Sole, Skate (Thornback Ray), Bass, Cod, Herring and Sprats are the most important finfish species caught within the estuary and are sold to the markets in England and Europe. The cockle fishery is one of the largest of its kind in the UK. The majority of vessels are under 10m and, along with local fish merchants, are often owner operated.
The construction of London Gateway will affect some aspects of the fishing industry in the Thames Estuary. Detailed analysis of construction impacts was presented at an in-depth Public Inquiry, which concluded that environmental impacts would be temporary and limited to the construction phase and a post-construction recovery period. Comprehensive research has predicted that cockle beds will not be affected by the construction of the port.
Over the years, London Gateway has engaged in dialogue with the fishermen of the Thames estuary through its fisheries consultant, MacAlister Elliott & Partners (MEP). We understand that the majority of fishermen and fishing business owners in the estuary have been contacted; however if anyone has not been contacted and is concerned about the effect of the port on their business, we would encourage them to contact MEP. Due to the need to dredge a deep water channel, it is anticipated that a number of fishermen may experience reduced catches or increased costs during the development of the scheme and a very limited number with a reliance on the reclamation area will be unable to fish or will be required to change their methods during the construction and recovery periods.
The London Gateway team recognised this issue and developed an unprecedented financial disturbance payments package to make good any losses experienced by a fishing business as a direct result of the port’s construction. The Public Inquiry and the Secretary of State approved the outline of the scheme.
During the course of the Public Inquiry and since the approval of the construction, we have employed a specialist team to investigate reported disturbances to the fishing industry. MEP carried out a comprehensive survey of the fishing and shellfish industry in the estuary in 2002 through contact with individual fishermen and other dependents on the Thames estuary fishery. This survey was updated in 2009 to reflect changes in the industry since 2002. Following the completion of this survey, our consultants contacted affected holders of licensed fishing vessels to inform them of the fishing disturbance scheme being implemented by London Gateway.
Advanced Payment Scheme
As stated above, a limited number of fishing businesses were assessed as likely to be very seriously impacted by London Gateway’s construction and we have completed disturbance payments with owners of affected fishing vessels in the upper estuary. This scheme is now closed and any future payments will be under the Pay As You Go (PAYG) scheme.
Pay As You Go Scheme
The PAYG scheme relates to fishermen and associated fishing businesses in the Thames that may be adversely affected by construction and/or dredging activities but whose fishing operations are more flexible allowing them to continue fishing the unaffected areas during the construction and recovery phases of the project. Where a vessel owner believes they have experienced a loss, their fishing performance during this period will be assessed against historical fishing records to determine what, if any, impact has been experienced. Where losses are demonstrable, these will be made good by the London Gateway team under the PAYG system.
London Gateway has employed fishing liaison officers to engage with the local fishing community and is sending regular newsletters to stakeholders in the estuary. We are happy to discuss the potential implications of the construction of the port and details of the disturbance scheme with any interested parties. Should you wish to contact us about this disturbance scheme, please call our fisheries consultants MacAlister Elliott and Partners on 01590 679016. Alternatively you can email on email@example.com.