European Law May Restrict Fishing In Scilly

The Islands’ IFCA officer says he’s closely monitoring correspondence from Defra and European legislators for signs that they may wish to restrict methods of fishing here.

Steve Watt told last week’s IFCA meeting that the islands fall entirely within a European Marine Site. That’s a conservation status applied to our sea area.

Defra faces a legal challenge from the Marine Conservation Society who want tighter rules on fishing methods in those special areas which, like Scilly, are listed under the European Habitats Directive.

Controls could have been tightened under a programme called Natura 2000, but extra restrictions haven’t been applied and environmentalists are trying to get that changed by threatening legal action.

Defra has now told our islands IFCA they want to limit bottom dredging, such as scalloping, within the European Marine Site. We already ban this under old, local legislation out to 4 nautical miles.

Steve says there could be scope for further restrictions as Defra want protected areas like ours to be, “well-managed and adequately protected.”

He says there is a slim chance that pots could also be banned.

In the meantime, Scilly’s IFCA is going ahead with a bylaw defining minimum landing sizes for lobster, crabs and crawfish. It has general support after consultation, but some fisherman are unhappy at raising minimum shellfish sizes.

The IFCA is also considering a restriction of five pots for hobbyists so they can’t land enough to sell and jeopardise commercial fisherman, who may come under a pot limitation byelaw.

Steve says not all hobby fishermen have responded to a pot number survey and currently each one has an average of five pots.