Scilly’s IFCA Drops Proposed Ban On Scallop Dredging

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2A proposed byelaw that bans scallop dredging within six miles of Scilly has been dropped following objections from mainland fishermen.

Instead, members of the islands’ Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority voted to move forward with a new byelaw that will allow certain areas closer to shore to be fished by boats issued with permits.

The original ‘Methods of Fishing’ restrictions were planned to protect the sensitive marine environment in Scilly.

But the IFCA received five objections from mainland boat operators and fish wholesalers.

The chief executive of the South Western Fish Producer Organisation said that tides and waves in Scilly would ‘dwarf’ any damage caused by an occasional scallop dredger.

He suggested the law was being imposed to protect local fishermen and rather than being marine management, and said it was ‘despotism’ rather than marine management.

Fisherman Robert Alexander from Penryn said he’d had his boat specially built to conform to the existing regulations on the islands. He said that the scallop grounds here were important to his business.

IFCA officer Steve Watt said pushing ahead with the original proposal following the objections could have ended in a judicial review.

If they lost that, it could cause huge financial problems for the Authority, he said.

The new ‘Towed Fishing Gear Permit’ byelaw will allow vessels below a certain size to continue fishing off the south east and north west shores of Scilly, in areas that don’t contain sensitive marine features.

However, boat owners will need to apply for a permit and will have to fit a GPS monitoring system that can be accessed by the local IFCA, to check they’re only fishing in the designated area.

Local fisherman Robert Francis said that the new law would allow younger islands-based fishermen to start scalloping operations again in the future if they wanted to.

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