Unmarked Pots Could Be Moved Under Proposed Byelaw
The draft Limited Shellfish Permit Byelaw would see non-commercial fishermen, or ‘hobbyists,’ having the number of pots they can use capped.
And it would allow IFCA officers to remove any gear that isn’t clearly marked.
Fisheries Officer Doug Holt said some hobby fishermen’s gear had been placed in busy navigational tracks around the islands and represented a hazard to boating.
Because it was unmarked, the IFCA couldn’t trace the owner and ask them to move it.
And officers can’t seize the tackle because currently only Trinity House has those powers in Scilly.
There’s a voluntary code of practise in place to get pots tagged but it’s not working and there’s still too much unmarked gear, says Doug,
Tim Allsop, a commercial diver, agreed saying he was, “forever getting calls from commercial and pleasure boats to get ropes cut out of props.”
“Most comes from kit we can’t regulate,” added Tim.
And Council Chairman Amanda Martin “heartily endorsed” the proposed byelaw.
She said it’s, “clearly something where any gentlemen’s agreement has long since been given up and once again, where a very few people spoil it for everyone else.”
But there was less agreement over plans to restrict the number of pots that hobbyists can use.
IFCA Officer Steve Watt said when discussions started with commercial fishermen on a byelaw five years ago, they “were adamant” there were too many hobbyists and they wanted them managed more strictly.
But he says the fishermen’s view has “mellowed slightly” and they feel a byelaw is no longer needed.
Steve says IFCA data shows that the average number of pots used by hobbyists is 5, well below the proposed limit.
And he says the commercial fisherman don’t believe there is fish being sold on the ‘black market’ in Scilly any more.
Steve says ten to fifteen years ago, it was common practice for hobbyists to “knock on the door of a pub and get ten quid for a lobster.”
That stopped after the Buyers and Sellers Regulations were introduced, he says, which means food outlets have to produce receipts for all of their produce.
And recently, the maximum fine for non-compliance has been raised from £5,000 to £50,000.
The introduction of any new byelaw could take up to two years.