NIFCA welcomes new leadership and members

Northumberland’s fisheries management landscape is undergoing significant changes as key figures retire and new faces step up to lead the charge in marine conservation and sustainable fishing practices.

After an illustrious 15-year tenure, Les Weller, Chair of the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), has announced his retirement. Les leaves behind a legacy of unwavering dedication to sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of marine ecosystems. His departure marks the end of an era characterised by tireless advocacy and impactful leadership.

Replacing Les at the helm is Amelia Henderson, a respected recreational angler and staunch advocate for marine conservation. Amelia has been a volunteer member of NIFCA since 2022 and is Secretary of the Bedlington Sea Angling Club. She brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to environmental stewardship to her new role. Her appointment signals a continuity of NIFCA’s values and a renewed focus on collaborative efforts to protect North East coastal waters and marine biodiversity.

Commenting on Les’s retirement and Amelia’s appointment, Mark Southerton, Chief Officer of NIFCA, expressed gratitude for Les’s exemplary public service.

“Les has been a steadfast pillar of support for NIFCA, embodying our values of dedication and passion for marine conservation. His leadership and support have been instrumental in our achievements over the past 15 years, and he leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire us.”

Incoming chair Amelia expressed her commitment to building upon Les’s legacy by fostering collaboration among stakeholders, fishing communities and conservation groups.

She said: “I am deeply honoured to follow in Les’s footsteps and eager to embark on this new journey. I am committed to working hand in hand with all of our stakeholders to preserve our coastal waters and uphold our rich marine biodiversity.”

In addition to the change in leadership, NIFCA also welcomes new members to its ranks. Jim Stephenson, a commercial fisher and NIFCA member for more than 28 years, has retired from his position.

He will be succeeded by Brian Douglas, bringing fresh perspectives and expertise to the Authority’s endeavours. Furthermore, Guy Renner-Thompson has been nominated to serve as vice chair, further strengthening NIFCA’s leadership team.

“Jim Stephenson has been a cornerstone of NIFCA’s efforts for over 28 years, and we are immensely grateful for his dedicated service to our community,” added Mark.

“As a lifelong commercial fisher, Jim’s expertise and passion for our coastal waters have been invaluable. His commitment to sustainable fishing practices and marine conservation has left an indelible mark on our organisation. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Jim for his public service and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

As NIFCA transitions into this new chapter, it remains steadfast in its mission to promote responsible fishing practices, safeguard coastal habitats and ensure the sustainable management of the coastal waters in its district.

With a dynamic blend of experience, dedication, and passion, the Authority is poised to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the world of marine conservation and fisheries management.