A best-practice code of conduct for sole fishing with gill-nets in Lyme Bay has been agreed by the steering group of the South West Regional Fisheries Group.
The steering group was set up by the MMO and Southern IFCA in response to concerns from fishermen that an increase in sole quota has led to conflict and potential overfishing in Lyme Bay – defined as the area inside a line from Beer Head to Portland.
The group includes fishing industry representatives from the Lyme Bay Community Interest Company and other local ports, and representatives from Defra, Southern IFCA, Cefas and the MMO.
The agreement is:
- A minimum 127mm mesh size for gill-nets targeting sole
- All fixed nets to be marked with a buoy showing the PLN of the vessel at both ends
- Flags and radar reflectors to be used where possible and practical to mark the location of nets.
The agreed measures are ‘best practice recommendations’ and not legal regulations.
The first recommendation is designed to support the sole population by giving smaller fish the opportunity to breed, while the second and third are designed to reduce gear conflict.
The MMO is working with Cefas and other organisations to develop a scientific investigation into what impact increased fishing in Lyme Bay is having on sole populations and the marine environment, alongside potential socio- economic impacts on fishermen. This work involves the use of data from logbooks, from the Catch App and from observers at sea and in fishmarkets.
The regional fisheries groups were set up as a mechanism for predominantly the inshore fleet to share their views with Defra, MMO, Cefas, IFCAs and other relevant parties, in order to advance collaborative working. They have in part evolved from quota advisory groups.
The incentive for these groups arose from the Future of Inshore Fisheries Conference in 2019 and conversations within Defra’s inshore working group and the MMO’s quota advisory groups.
There are five groups: North East (IVb), North West (VIIa), South East (IVc), South (VIId) and South West (VIIefg). The membership encompasses MMO, Defra, Cefas, IFCAs, the catching sector and other relevant stakeholders.
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