Unmarked Pots Could Be Moved Under Proposed Byelaw

lobster potScilly’s Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority could get new powers to lift unmarked shellfish pots following approval to start work on a new byelaw at their last meeting.

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.

6 Responses to Unmarked Pots Could Be Moved Under Proposed Byelaw

  1. Adam Morton, St.Martins February 8, 2016 at 9:40 am

    The trouble with dahns as markers is they invariably break off when used inshore where they get weed caught around them, leaving only the tommy buoys which then cause the problem. Large buoys are better (without yards of floaty rope on the surface!). That said, it doesn’t absolve the helmsman from looking where he’s going! I lose no end of expensive buoys & gear in places no pleasure boat has any business to be and certainly not a “navigable channel” . It’s only common sense to keep the essential routs (often used after dark) clear of unnecessary obstruction . A single large buff with a leaded topper should avoid most problems. I don’t think a bylaw is necessary for this . I suspect much of the so called unmarked gear is commercial which has had the main markers cut of by people who just don’t look where they are going! In reduced visibility SLOW DOWN ! If you can’t see ahead for a safe stopping distance ,slow down till you can. I see jet boats and others still operating at full speed in thick fog or pitch darkness , it’s only a matter of time till luck runs out! There are canoes everywhere these days and punts without lights. On the sea we ALL have responsibility to avoid accidents ,it’s in the rule book!

  2. Chris Peat February 7, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I lost a prop a couple of years ago when I ran over a submerged improvised pot buoy (just a fender on a rope that was too short). It had been placed just off Creeb, the Scilly nautical equivalent of the M25. I would be very happy to see rules defining minimum buoyage standards put in place and enforced.

  3. PgH February 7, 2016 at 10:39 am

    valid points allan..Dan flags with the identification on would be a great idea ,rather than plastic oil drums or the small “tommies” that lots seem to use.
    One big issue about the markers in the channels is at night or poor weather.
    Poor weather the “tommies” are hard to spot until the boats are almost on-top of them , which is where dan flags would help out.
    At night vessels are somewhat reliant on the channels being clear of long floaty rope with badly marked ends.
    Bad spots for this are gear shot too far off the shore by the Newman, the Calf and golf course shoreline and around the Creeb.And also a really bad place is Iron Scuds off Guthers.
    Sometimes the gear is shot “safe” but changes in wind/tide direction make the ends tail out in to the channels which maybe thew hobby fishermen don’t appreciate at the time.
    One nuisance drifting around the roads at the moment is Aggregate bags from the quay work …one of those in the prop or jet unit of a vessel would cause a fairly sudden stop !

  4. Allan Hicks February 6, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Skippers need to look where they’re going when in restricted areas it’s not only pot ropes that can catch you out, large lumps of discarded nets are also a problem and do not have buoys on. Why not make Dan buoys a requirement? Easier to see and avoid, no cost to IFCA and can be implemented straight away !!

  5. Neptune February 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    The young but so knowledgeable IFCA officer declares your pots a hazard and removes them, that’s going to go down really well!

  6. Chargepayer February 4, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    “Heartily endorsed”, that’s the kiss of death then!