Scilly’s IFCA Prepares For Cuts In Funding

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2A working party has been set up to prepare for anticipated cuts in funding for our islands’ Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

Chief Fisheries Officer Steve Watt attended a meeting in London earlier this month, where IFCA Officers were told cuts of up to 30% in budgets could occur following the Government’s upcoming comprehensive spending review later this year.

Defra currently provides around £110,000 to maintain Scilly’s IFCA with £14,000 coming from the Council. The Local Authority element has already fallen over the past two years from £23,000.

But Steve said fisheries are a low priority for the government, because it represents such a small proportion of the UK economy. And he said unlike farming and flooding, their budgets aren’t protected.

Steve says the situation “is gloomy but not terminal” and they can continue the service with less funding, although some areas of their work “would need to be trimmed.”

The new working party will look at the effect of possible cuts. Steve said it’s no use waiting for the announcements in April – they needed to be prepared.

Previous Council Chairmen, most notably the late Cllr Mike Hicks, fought hard to establish an independent fisheries authority for Scilly. But in 2013, the IFCA discussed a possible merger with the much bigger organisation in neighbouring Cornwall if funding became tight.

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