Case study GIFS project: Hastings

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Hastings Case study

Hastings Case Study Introduction

Hastings is one of Britain's oldest fishing ports with boats launched from the beach from an area known as the Stade for over 1000 years[1]. Once a medieval Cinque port, today it is home to one of the largest beach launched fishing fleets in Europe (approximately 23 boats in 2014). All the boats are under ten metre inshore vessels. Hastings is a mixed fisheries with MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification for its Dover Sole, Mackerel and Herring fisheries. Hastings is an urban coastal town situated on the southeast coast of England (See Figure 2). It has a rich historical and cultural history, including its association with nearby Battle and the 11th Century Norman Conquest. This was followed by many centuries as a successful fishing town and the 19th century emergence as a popular and affluent Victorian spa resort. Sadly this was followed by a well-documented economic decline from the mid 20th century onwards[2]. Hastings is ranked in the 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) as the 19th most deprived district in England[3]. Hastings has sought to address pockets of social and economic deprivation through intensive government and community led regeneration interventions over the last twenty years. Efforts to reverse this decline with regard to the fleet and fishing community (which faces challenges of rising fuel and license costs, reduced quotas, an ageing demographic, risk of reduced fishing grounds and limited numbers of new industry entrants) has manifest in an ongoing fishing quarter cultural regeneration programme, and in 2010/11 with the town securing European FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group) funding. This is an important context for fisheries governance integration within wider local development planning and an important motivation for applying the GIFS methods here in order to capture a comprehensive evidence base to help inform that planning.

Figure 2. Hastings, East Sussex, southeast England (Source: VLIZ, 2014)

Each of the methods in the diagram above was developed by a different GIFS partner and applied in collaboration with Hastings fishing community stakeholders via the HFPS (Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society) and/or the FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group). The importance of community participation in the support, co-design and/or delivery of these methods is paramount to the success of their use in addressing each Research Question (RQ). The findings help inform a more holistic approach to fisheries management that takes better account of social and cultural values, as well as ensuring IF is better integrated into coastal and marine planning and wider economic development strategies. The objective is to provide a robust set of findings for policymakers and stakeholders that reflect the total value and different ways in which IF contribute to sustainable coastal communities. Note: Figure 1 indicates the GIFS partner that led the research in Hastings and does not indicate those partners who conducted the same methods elsewhere. For more detail on how to apply each method see Chapters 3-6 in the GIFS toolkit:

Fig1 Hastings.png

What difference have the GIFS methods and resulting findings made to Inshore Fishing in Hastings?

The box below highlights example benefits to the Hastings fleet of applying these methods and their findings. However, it is important to note the impact of the findings indicated below do not cover the long-term value to the fleet of this engagement with GIFS (such as the now established knowledge exchange partnership with the Municipality of Middelburg), but rather provide a snap-shot of the benefits to date and early application of findings.

Box 1. Example benefits to the Hastings fleet & wider town of GIFS methods
1. They have further embedded the value of fisher knowledge in local regeneration (via alternative education and participatory methods) and marine planning decision-making (via sea-bed filming).
2. Guidance on good practice in collaborative fisheries/local community governance has helped shape FLAG strategic planning.
3. Cross-border knowledge and resources exchange to develop the education model which improves the effectiveness of this offer and helps secure this as an alternative income stream.
4. A new tailored online local tourism survey has been developed & piloted with the Hastings FLAG, local council, University of Brest and University of Brighton following the success of GIFS survey results.
5. Participatory methods have highlighted the potential for and resulted in planned community action to replicate these methods to involve voices rarely heard in marine planning from particularly deprived areas of the town.

Working in such a collaborative manner with the different GIFS partners has helped to further mainstream (with community and GIFS partners) the value of local fishing community knowledge in that it has played a role in identifying research needs and in enabling the context sensitive delivery of these methods. This is an approach the Hastings fleet has always advocated in its work with academics, industry scientists, conservation bodies and management authorities. Involving local fishers in research supports a more inclusive data collection approach and a more locally informed data set, as well as enabling a positive knowledge exchange between the different parties to improve future monitoring and marine/ coastal planning.

A further impact of the application of GIFS methods in Hastings has been the building of new cross-border partnerships and establishment of knowledge exchange networks, for example with the Municipality of Middelburg and Horizon Educatief, Ostend with regard to fisheries related education. The cross-border sharing of ideas, resources and solutions to challenges in building sustainable communities is central to helping both communities achieve their sustainability goals. The development of professional education pack resources in Hastings via GIFS education model method has augmented the fisheries-led enriched education offer and enabled a more strategic link to area based curriculum. Both the resources and strategic planning increases the security of this valuable ecosystem service, while also helping to develop this alternative income stream for fishers.

Meanwhile the results of the TEV (Total Economic Value) tourism survey led by University of Brest have resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding being established between the local FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group), University of Brighton and University of Brest to continue to develop a longitudinal study of the link between the fisheries and the broader Hastings tourism offer. This partnership and the subsequent data set are particularly valuable as the town considers its potential as a responsible tourism destination as well as considering how the methodology might be improved and tailored to inform green and fisheries related tourism planning in Hastings.

Hastings was the pilot site for the governance case study method and as such initial findings were fed back to the FLAG board in early 2013 that were able to contribute to decision-making around the risks and vulnerabilities as well as strengths and opportunities in local fisheries governance. This data has since been updated and added to the findings from the research with 7 other FLAGs. The position paper that has resulted from this work will be delivered to a wide range of local governance stakeholders to support their key milestone planning forum around fisheries and marine related regeneration in the summer of 2014. The case study method findings concerning barriers to and good practice in developing co-management approaches with local inshore fisheries were shared with the Natural England marine / fisheries team at a training day they held in Hastings so that this could help inform their practices.

The participatory methods work through the National Ecosystem Assessment Follow On workshops demonstrated to a wide range of local stakeholders how it is possible to capture a diverse spectrum of values regarding social and cultural ecosystem services (in an inshore fisheries context) that can be used to better inform marine & coastal planning and secure consensus around sustainable community policy objectives and budgets. The data from these workshops reinforced the absence of these services in standard fisheries management and provided an opportunity to promote a more ecosystems based approach. Working with Natural England and the Sussex IFCA the local fleet have been part of a project to involve fishers in capturing more accurate seabed data using underwater cameras suspended from fishing boats. Involving the fishers in this way contributes to mutual partner learning and more effective inclusion of fishers in the fisheries science and conservation process helping establish the equity of LEK in this traditionally natural science driven process.

The value of the combination of methods in Hastings can be seen in the application of data to inform multiple policy areas locally and in other cross border regions. For example, the data from the education method is informing the evolution of tourism surveys and vice versa. The Hastings GIFS case study demonstrates an understanding that these methods do not stand alone, but rather can and perhaps should be used in combination to achieve a broader picture of the many different direct and indirect ways inshore fishing contribute to their community, environmental conservation and a sustainable coastal economy.

References and Relevant Links

  1. Urquhart, J. and Acott, T. (2013) Constructing ‘The Stade’: Fishers’ and non-fishers’ identity and place attachment in Hastings, South-east England. Marine Policy, 37, 45-54.
  2. Hastings Regeneration Partnership (2002) Making Waves – A regeneration strategy for Hastings and St Leonards, Hastings Regeneration Partnership: Hastings
  3. Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (2011) The English Indices of Deprivation 2010. The Stationery Office (TSO), London
Government Office South East (GOSE) (2008) Key facts about Hastings. Available Online at: [Accessed 27 July 2013]
UK National Ecosystems Assessment Follow On (2014):