Lyme Bay Fisherman’s CIC (LBF)

The MMO has unveiled a series of measures connected to the sole fishery in Lyme Bay following on from this years consultation. Photo: Lyme Bay Fisherman’s CIC

Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has today, Tuesday 12 September, unveiled a series of measures connected to the sole fishery in Lyme Bay following an extensive consultation and workshop with stakeholders earlier this year.

The consultation, developed with a steering group of fishers, scientists, policy makers and fisheries managers, sought stakeholders’ views on the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the sole fishery in the area.

It was launched following on-going discussions about how to respond to reports of increased sole fishing in Lyme Bay, competition for fishing space, gear conflicts and a reduction in the volume of sole catches and the size of the fish.

This was followed by a workshop with key representatives from the fishing industry to discuss the key issues in Lyme Bay and ways forward to manage the sole fishery and gear conflict.

Today, MMO has published a document setting out its decisions on management measures and related actions.

In brief, MMO will:

  • Create a new vessel licence condition requiring enhanced visibility and identification of passive gear
  • Publish a form for reporting lost and found gear that can be used without the need for names in order to improve data on the frequency of these events
  • Set a reduced sole catch limit of 200kg for non-sector vessels fishing with scallop dredges in ICES area 7e
  • Hold discussions with Producer Organisations about ways members can reduce sole bycatch when fishing with dredges
  • Support additional research to understand the potential need, benefits and risks of changes to minimum landing sizes or gear configurations
  • Facilitate a meeting for representative industry members to discuss the potential for separating areas of Lyme Bay for use by different fishing methods at different times of the year. It will be hosted by MMO in early 2024. If you would like to be involved in the meeting please email us at [email protected].

Richard Hoskin, Head of Sustainable Fisheries at MMO, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with us on the options for the Lyme Bay sole fishery.

“We have collated and considered all the responses and have come to decisions which we think will best meet the needs of stakeholders, balancing the competing perspectives and requirements expressed in the consultation.

“Our aim has been to support an environmentally and economically sustainable sole fishery in and around Lyme Bay – and we now have a set of further steps for research and management measures to continue to improve the benefits of the fishery over the next couple of years.”

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