Following on from the immense amount of interest and engagement from the fishing industry and the wider community whilst taking in to account limitations on fishermen’s time and a previously intermittent presence by heritage staff, a new approach to the reporting of finds has been launched.
In 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approached for funding to support and create the position of Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer (HEFLO). Wessex Archaeology, with the support of the Sussex IFCA, was successful in their application to relaunch the FIPAD, and in February 2016 Alistair Byford-Bates was appointed to the HEFLO post.
By becoming a permanent presence on the ground in Sussex the HEFLO will liaise with the fishing community at times that suit the ebb and flow of their daily operations. This will hopefully lead to an improved exchange of information between heritage bodies and the fishermen of Sussex. This in turn should lead to increased reporting of new discoveries via the HEFLO and FIPAD, the collating of information on legacy artefacts, seabed fastener locations, and items recovered and returned to the seabed. In return there will be more successful identification of finds made by fishermen through Wessex Archaeology’s team of finds experts.
In carrying out these duties the HEFLO will also provide advice and support on the legal implications of reporting maritime artefacts as required by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The HEFLO will also be engaging with the wider to community to raise awareness of our shared maritime heritage and the role the fishing community have played in it.
Alistair studied for a degree in Archaeological and Forensic Sciences and a Master’s degree in Applied Sciences by Research at Bournemouth University, after 25 years in the dairy industry. Since then he has been involved with commercial archaeology, working on a range of sites across the UK, and with a disaster management company in Africa and Europe.