Clearing up a fishy mystery

The Rochester Oyster and Floating Fishery (ROFF) established Medway’s NTZ in 2015, which was later backed by Kent & Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority by the creation the River Medway Nursery Area (Prohibition of Fishing) Byelaw.  But no monitoring has been possible since then to establish the extent to which is it has been successful.

The Medway no-take zone (NTZ) is the largest marine protected area the UK.  It covers 4.6 square miles of saltmarsh and mudflat environments which are vital for the survival for many fish species, providing them with shelter from predators and storms and an abundance of prey for them to feed on.

Thanks to funding from Sea-Changers and ROFF funding in 2021 the Fish of the Medway project has been launched to establish the success of the UK’s largest estuarine no take zone. The project will gather data over a complete year to assess variances in fish behaviour across the seasons in order to illustrate the current condition of the Medway estuary and its fisheries. In partnership with Environment Agency, Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries Committee, ROFF, Institute of Fisheries Management and Medway Council the project will start monitoring in 2022.

Richard Turner says”. ROFF are very pleased to be engaged in supporting this venture and look forward to being part of this project in particular reviewing and evaluating the monitoring results.”

This data will be compared with past surveys, and, as a result, the information gathered will enable Medway’s management to understand how and where they can sustainably operate, thereby saving jobs or creating more if further improvements are required. We hope to our findings and conclusions can be used in other UK or worldwide estuaries, providing a local case study for effective estuary management.

The volunteers will also be investigating the manmade habitat created on the Medway during the developments along the river


Notes for Editors

 Find out more about the project here 

  • The Medway Estuary is protected for estuarine and wetland habitats for over wintering and breeding birds and nursery areas for fish, they are protected by National, European and International regulations and managed by Natural England, Landowners and NGO’s such as the RSPB
  • Disturbance is one of the largest issues for the birds in our urban estuaries, for more information on how to act responsibly see the local Kent and Medway council project
  • Access to the wilder parts of the estuary is not an easy task, with strong currents, thick mud and sand, the public must be well equipped before attempting to access more remote areas where mobile signal may be limited. Most islands are privately owned and permission should be sought before accessing them.
  • The Living River Foundation is a not for profit organisation set up to raise awareness to protect and improve the local estuaries.  It helps create awareness of the impact that our way of life is having on the environment and how everyone can do something to improve the environment. 
  • The Foundations projects include Volunteers monitoring microplastics, carrying out litter picks and working with the community to encourage change and improving awareness in Chatham.
  • Sea-Changers aim to harness people’s love for the sea, inspiring them to contribute positively to its sustainability by funding grassroots marine conservation projects through business partnerships.
  • ROFF hold exclusive and long standing fishing rights within the River Medway from Garrison Point to Hawkwood Stone and are very keen to maintain and hopefully improve this marine environment. Establishment of the NTZ initially unilaterally was seen as a key stage in protecting the nursery habitat for many juvenile species. Protection measures were/are already in place for Bass but ROFF has a keen interest in the wider range of fish and feel that the bass restrictions may now be outdated or even irrelevant.