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Common Ground

A collaborative project and documentary about community views on Marine Protected Areas

Conservation issues are often characterized by differences of opinion, arguments and an ‘us-and-them’ approach to discourse and debate. But there is usually common ground to be found among those involved, which is vital to progress, but often overlooked in the heat of the moment.

Common Ground was a project led by the Marine Conservation Society and the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) with the support of the The Wash and North Norfolk Marine Partnership. Common Ground reached deep into coastal communities in Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire to record sea users’ values, opinions and views on their inshore seas and how they are managed as a way to feed directly into the way the IFCA works.

Common Ground was filmed in early Spring 2016 and produced that Summer. The interviews were treated as data, and the analysis of the data is reflected in the narrative of the film, which is entirely guided by the voices of the 40 interviewees. The film was then screened at paired workshops held in Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire in November 2016, which were attended by over 100 people. All participants were encouraged to identify what they value about their interaction with the coast and sea, and any actions the IFCA can take to protect what they care about most, be it the freedom of walking by the sea, the joy of angling, the exhilaration of diving in spectacular seascapes, or the ability to make a quality living from fishing. All information from the workshops was fed directly to the IFCA who are using it to inform their working priorities.

The Common Ground film identified a range of values that disparate and varied sea users held dear. This common ground helped people from different backgrounds talk about the management of our seas at the workshops, in many cases for the first time, leading to new conversations and relationships between the IFCA and sea users who had not previously participated in their consultations.

Local Designations


North Norfolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Promoting an understanding and appreciation of North Norfolk's natural beauty and the importance of local sustainable development. Image credit, C. Knights More

RAMSAR Wetlands sites

Gibraltar Point, The Wash and North Norfolk have been designated RAMSAR sites to protect their wetlands and associated resources. Image Credit, S. Bosley. More

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Gibraltar Point, The Wash and North Norfolk have been designated SSSI's in recognition of their important ecological and geological value to the UK. Image credit, C. Knights More

National Nature Reserves

Gibraltar Point, The Wash, Titchwell, Holme , Holkham, Cley and Blakeney coasts have all been designated NNR's to protect their habitats, species and geology. More

Cromer Shoal Marine Conservation Zone

Chalk beds are home to a beautiful diversity of sea-life such as sponges, algae, crabs and herring and are protected at Cromer, Norfolk. Image credit, Rob Spray and Dawn Watson. More

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