Scilly’s Fishermen Reject Crayfish Restrictions

Fishermen feel plans to prevent the landing of crayfish in much of the islands’ waters have been ‘sneaked in’ during discussion over the 11 maritime conservation zones, according to Maritime Officer Steve Watt.

Defra and Natural England believe the species is under threat and have rated it as ‘R’ for recover. They say it needs to be protected so stocks build up.

However, a group, chaired by Council Chair Mike Hicks, this week discussed the conservation areas that will be introduced in a year. They spotted the proposed amendment and opposed it.

Steve says crayfish are abundant in some of the areas where the ban was proposed, particularly in the Bishop to Crim and Seven Stones conservation zones.

He says the view of the group was that crayfish caught within the islands’ 6 mile limits would make no difference to stocks whatsoever – it was really the big Spanish and French trawlers outside these limits that are causing the problems.

But he did say that, during the main season in late summer, the crayfish form a significant part of the fishermen’s income.

Steve says the conservation zones won’t be brought in for some time and, in fact, have been delayed by at least a year by the minister in charge, but he says locals have made sure that crayfish catch wont be restricted.