Cornwall IFCA has withdrawn a proposed Crab and Lobster Pot Fishing (Restricted Vessels) Emergency Byelaw 2022 following a short consultation

Cornwall IFCA has withdrawn a proposed Crab and Lobster Pot Fishing (Restricted Vessels) Emergency Byelaw 2022 following a short consultation

Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) have withdrawn an emergency byelaw for the management of fishing effort for edible crab and lobster within the Cornwall IFCA District following a short consultation with stakeholders.

The emergency byelaw, which was due to come into effect from Monday 02 January 2023, would have meant that over 12-metre vivier vessels will no longer be allowed be able to fish for crabs and lobsters within the district.  There will be a period of ten consecutive calendar days, during which these vessels may haul and remove their pots from the district.

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If it had come into effect, the emergency byelaw would have been in place for 12 months, during which time there would be work on a permanent byelaw to replace the emergency byelaw, addressing this issue Cornwall IFCA believe are in the district.

In their letter to the district’s stakeholders, Cornwall IFCA stated that following detailed review of the data collected through their Shellfish Permit
Byelaw monthly returns submitted by permit holders from 2016 – 2021, they found the Cornwall IFCA district is experiencing a significant change in fishing effort, in terms of volumes of shellfish removed from the district and LPUE (landing per unit effort, measured in kg/100 pots hauled) by over 12 metre potting vessels targeting lobsters and
edible crab, particularly those with vivier tanks on board, due to their overall size and fishing capacity.

In comparison, under 10 metre potting vessels operating in the same areas are showing a far smaller increase in lobster landings and LPUE and a significant decline in crab landings and LPUE.

Between 2016 and 2021, over 12 m vessels showed:

  • 211% increase in pots hauled
  • 146% increase in lobster landed
  • 20% decrease in lobster LPUE (kg/100 pots hauled)
  • 154% increase in crab landed
  • 18% decrease in crab LPUE (kg/100 pots hauled)

Between 2016 and 2021, under 10 m vessels showed:

  • 18% decrease in pots hauled
  • 4% increase in lobster landed
  • 29% increase in lobster LPUE (kg/100 pots hauled)
  • 69% decrease in crab landed
  • 65% decrease in crab LPUE (kg/100 pots hauled)

During the winter, because of their size and capability, these larger vessels can be more active than under 10 m vessels. This is shown in the activity data where it is estimated that in terms of pots hauls between Jan and March 2021, the over 12m vivier vessels’ effort was 720% more that in the under 10 metre sector in the same area.

The number of over 12 m vivier vessels working in the Cornwall IFCA district has increased from 5 to 8 from 2016 -2021, an increase of 60%. In the same period, the number of under 10 m vessels has shown a decrease of 13%, from 327 to 283.

Releasing an update on proposed Cornwall IFCA Crab and Lobster Pot Fishing (Restricted Vessels) Emergency Byelaw 2022, Cornwall IFCA said:

“A short consultation on the proposed Emergency Byelaw has generated considerable interest from across the county, from a wide range of commercial fishermen, as well as from related businesses, fishing organisations, Councillors and MPs.

“Strong support for the aims of the byelaw was expressed by fishermen wanting to see measures to manage and reduce potting effort for crabs and lobsters. Strong objections were raised by the fishermen and businesses who own and operate over 12 m vivier vessels based in Cornwall.

“The data underpinning the proposals showed that there is a very pressing need to find solutions to managing effort, before it is too late for the stocks that directly support 271 vessels across Cornwall. This point has been made very clearly through the feedback to the proposals.

“Following consultation with the members of our Authority, there was not sufficient support to take the emergency byelaw forwards.  However, we recognise that this has to be a priority issue for this IFCA. In the New Year, we quickly want to start a wider informal consultation to develop options to manage fishing effort for crabs and lobsters and provide an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to be involved.”

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