Unmarked Lobster Pots ‘Out Of Control’

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2Unmarked lobster pots should get confiscated, say members of Scilly’s Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

Fisheries Officer Doug Holt told attendees at last Thursday’s meeting in the Old Wesleyan Chapel that he’d found 191 unmarked buoys attached to lobster pots last month.

Doug said he had attached warnings to 30 unmarked buoys, giving owners seven days notice, but he said very few have complied.

And there’s little he can do about it, he says.

Doug was advised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that confiscating the unmarked buoys would be a “grey area.”

That’s because by law, commercial fishermen have to mark their buoys so they can be identified, but this doesn’t apply to hobby fishermen.

In Scilly, a voluntary code was agreed between the commercial fishermen and the hobbyists last year, which meant they had to mark their pots.

But James Francis said they should “use the grey area” to their advantage.

If the buoys were unmarked, he said, then no one could tell if they were commercial or not, so Doug should just go ahead and lift them, assuming they’re commercial.

Commercial fisher, Robert Francis said the situation was obviously “out of control” and the hobbyists were not interested in cooperating with the voluntary code.

He said there seemed to be one rule for commercial fishermen, and everyone else “could do what the hell they like.”

He said they needed to come up with a scheme that’s enforceable.

Tim Allsop felt that perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but just that the “word wasn’t getting around” about what had been agreed.

He felt they should spend the winter talking to the hobby fishermen about the new agreement, rather than “stamping on them.”

They’ll also put notices up on all the islands noticeboards, drawing attention to the need to mark their gear and warning that it could be lifted if they don’t comply.

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