Voluntary Code On Marking Lobster Pots Has Failed Says IFCA

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2Scilly’s Inshore Fisheries Authority will bring in new byelaws requiring all fishermen to mark their lobster pots after admitting that the voluntary agreement has failed.

Maritime Officer Steve Watt says the new restrictions will be included as part of a larger set of local regulations on catching shellfish, set for approval early next year.

At last week’s IFCA meeting, Fisheries Officer Doug Holt told members that a survey of fishing gear around Scilly in August showed that the majority of buoys, 196 out of 325, showing the location of lobster pots were still weren’t marked to identify the owner.

In his report, he said that it was becoming clear that the voluntary code of practice, agreed three years ago, is not working and future management measures need to be considered.

Doug said the IFCA had tried to reach an agreement with hobby fishermen during several meetings but these were often poorly attended. The Maritime Officer had also written to fisherman and used his show on Radio Scilly to get the message across, as well as producing a leaflet that was distributed across the islands.

But Doug says this has had “little or no impact” on the numbers of unmarked buoys in Scilly.

At the IFCA meeting last September, commercial fisherman Robert Francis said the situation was “out of control” and the hobbyists were “not interested” in cooperating with the voluntary code.

AT the time, members considered whether unmarked pots could be confiscated but were told that would be illegal without the necessary legislation in place.

They’ve now agreed that the IFCA should implement a byelaw requiring hobby fishermen to mark unlicensed gear with the necessary powers to enforce that.

The new regulations will be part of a larger “Crustacea Byelaw” which will include rules about the minimum and maximum size of lobsters that can be landed, to protect breeding stocks.

There’ll now be a three-month consultation period and Steve is hoping the new byelaws can be signed off ready for next season.

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