The seas within the Channel & North Sea are home to a vitally important fishing industry that is facing significant changes and challenges. Policy responses to reductions in fish stocks impact on communities that depend upon fishing, with social and economic consequences.

The aim of the GIFS project is to explore, across the common priority area, the socio-economic and cultural importance of inshore fishing in coastal communities along the English Channel and southern North Sea. The goal is to incorporate these factors more explicitly into fisheries and maritime policy, coastal regeneration strategies and sustainable community development. The project has partners in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

GIFS will explore the following themes:

  • Coastal zone governance and inshore fishing: an analysis of fisheries governance approaches, at regional and local level, and their relationship with broader coastal zone management will be undertaken, identifying best practice in co-management, fisher-led conservation and local ecological knowledge approaches.
  • Fishing places & community: through community-based activities, such as photographic exhibitions, focus groups and community engagement, understanding how fishing contributes to community identity and social cohesion.

GIFS will develop a toolkit for both policy makers and local planners, providing methods for capturing the broad value of fishing (in social, cultural and economic terms), and will document the importance of fishing for sustainable coastal communities.  Case studies within the common priority area will be undertaken, utilising fishing heritage for regeneration, community identity and the development of new economic opportunities. By exploring the three themes of governance, place and economy, GIFS will write a geography of inshore fishing that will help to create a spatial sense of place for the region and provide a snapshot of life in diverse fishing places at the start of the 21st century.