IFCA Could Introduce Byelaw Forcing Fishermen To Mark Lobster Pots

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2A byelaw could be introduced to force hobby fishermen to mark their lobster pots and to limit the number they use in Scilly.

Members of yesterday’s Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority meeting voted to consider new regulations if they can’t find a voluntary way to get fishermen to identify their pots.

At the last meeting in September, IFCA Officer Doug Holt described how he’d found 191 sets of unmarked gear in a period of a month.

And that prompted commercial fisherman, Robert Francis, to describe the situation as “out of control” with the hobbyists uninterested in co-operating with the voluntary code.

Members of the IFCA called for unmarked gear to be confiscated, but Doug now says this could be regarded as theft or criminal damage.

He said the only options are to get them to honour the agreement, or bring in a byelaw to force them.

Tim Alsop said it’s becoming obvious that they\re not getting information on the rules and regulations out to the hobbyists.

The IFCA has produced a new leaflet highlighting the size of lobsters and other fish that can be landed and these are being sent to all known fishermen on the islands.

But IFCA Officer Steve Watt says there are some “mavericks” who won’t stick to the code.

He’s called a meeting with the hobbyists in January to discuss the issues.

Robert Francis says the IFCA shouldn’t be stopping the hobbyists from fishing, but there needs to be some regulation, for the sake of conservation and marine safety.

He says if they won’t co-operate, then they can at least put together a more complete register of people using pots.

But Andy Guy, who was chairing the meeting, says most of the fishermen he knows want to protect the stocks and don’t break the rules. He says there are “one or two rogues” and those are the ones “they should stamp on.”

The IFCA will decide on their next move after the January meeting.

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