All year round, fishermen at sea and on the foreshore are constantly checking their nets and pots to see what has been caught. This makes them ideally placed to provide early warning of invasive non-native species.
Above: Sion Williams of the Llyn Pot Fishermen’s Association checking pots – one of 12 sentinel fishermen participating in the WFA INNS trial.
Invasive non-native species (INNS) are species that are outside of their natural range and cause significant impacts to native marine life, human health and our economic activity.
Fishermen in Wales benefit from dynamic seas that support a diverse range of native habitats and species. The Welsh government works in partnership with marine users to maintain and enhance marine life, to ensure our seas remain healthy and productive to support the sustainable use of our seas now and for future generations.
With an ever-changing environment, the Welsh Fishermen’s Association (WFA) continues to evolve and has been developing fishermen’s capabilities in marine data collection to help inform the management and monitoring of our seas.
With their valuable local knowledge and expertise, Welsh fishermen are currently involved in surveying and monitoring for the presence of INNS in our waters, thanks to a two-year trial part-funded by Natural Resources Wales and the WFA.
The trial has established 12 sentinel fishermen trained in recording INNS using a mobile phone app, Succorfish Catch App, with the help of photographic guides. The app – developed in collaboration with Succorfish – uses GPS through the Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS) to enable fishermen to provide accurate and real-time data on the location and type of invasive species found. This information will play a key role in understanding the distribution of INNS around Wales, and potential threats to native marine life.
The Welsh government’s cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, welcomed the support of the WFA and its members in collecting INNS data: “I am committed to ensuring Welsh seas are biologically diverse, healthy and productive now and for future generations,” she said. “The data collected will increase our understanding of INNS and help towards tackling the threats posed by invasive species to marine life, human health and our economy in Wales.”
A WFA spokesperson said, “Together, we are working to prevent the introduction, and control the spread of, INNS and following a successful trial the app will be made more widely available to enable all users to help tackle the threat of INNS.
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