Scilly’s Sea Fisheries Could Merge With Cornwall Unless Funding Is Found

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2The islands’ Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority could be merged with Cornwall’s in 2015 if their funding is withdrawn.

That was one of the options tabled by Maritime Officer Steve Watt at Tuesday’s IFCA meeting.

IFCA’s were created by an Act of Parliament and by law, local authorities have to provide the function.

Our Council has received a Defra grant of £110,00 over four years to fund it, but Steve says that will end on March 2015.

And future money could be under threat from a £200m budget cut recently imposed on Defra.

One option would be to merge with Cornwall’s IFCA, although Steve says that could still cost the Council up to £100,000 a year.

An alternative would be to transfer just the Maritime Officer role to Cornwall’s IFCA Chief Officer. Steve is retiring in 2015, so that position will become vacant.

But any loss of independence for Scilly’s IFCA could meet strong opposition.

Fisherman Robert Francis said prominent campaigners like Mike Hicks, Matt Lethbridge and John Goddard, all fought to keep the fishery under the control of the islands.

He didn’t want Scilly, “to go to bed at all with Cornwall.”

And IFCA Officer Doug Holt we’d be “a very small voice in a big room” if that happened.

The IFCA won’t be making any decisions about their future until news on funding is announced by the government.