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SIFCA Consultation on Inshore Netting Byelaw proposals.
April 2020: Since at least 2018, Southern IFCA has been considering possible changes & additions to its regulations regarding fixed netting inshore. Of particular note is a proposed exclusion zone round popular angling Piers as well as an almost total ban within the rivers & harbours on the IW.
This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get some inshore fixed netting controlled round the IW.
Consultations have been run along with drop-in sessions held on the Island as follows:-
15-11-18: Yarmouth Sailing Club 
28-11-18: Bembridge Angling Club
The matter continues to be dealt with by various working groups within SIFCA. 
The Angling Trust continues to push for a 47cm minimum size for commercial landings of all species of grey mullet since not only would this afford protection for them but the use of appropriate net mesh size would avoid the supposed "accidental" capture of undersized bass. Unfortunately, it seems that SIFCA are currently opting for 42cm just for Thick & Thin lips with 36cm for golden grey.
AT is supporting the recommendation made by the SIFCA angling liaison group (Alan Deeming is a member) that the suggested 100m exclusion zone round piers be extended to 200m but that has not yet been accepted by SIFCA.
Ring netting is still a major concern where it is being proposed to continue to be permitted in several areas.
Alan Deeming submitted a comprehensive response to an early consultation on behalf of BAC having sought the expert opinion of fellow members of the AT's national Conservation & Access Group. His response concentrated on areas of interest to IW anglers. It included requesting that the SIFCA proposed concessions allowing Ring Netting should be deleted entirely, the exclusion zone round piers be 200m rather than the proposed 100m & that the Grey Mullet minimum legal retention size should be 47cm for all species. He included a number of examples where there could be significant benefit to the local economy if inshore fish populations increased as a result of reductions in estuary & near shore netting thus prompting an increase in shore angling with a consequential increase in spending by anglers.
A similar response was submitted by the SIFCA angling liasion group aka Recreational Angling Sector Group (RASG) of which Alan Deeming is a member. That response included a request that all the proposed concessions to allow ring netting in certain areas be deleted. It also included additional financial benefit examples applicable to Poole & Langstone harbours.
All responsed to the early consultation were collated then presented to a working group within SIFCA. Since then, considerable work has been done by SIFCA officers and the SIFCA Technical Advisory Group but still no formal proposal has been able to be put to the full SIFCA committee (as of April 2020) in the form (probably) of a proposed byelaw. Once internal SIFCA agreement is reached  on the content of the byelaw, that will then be the subject of a further public consultation prior to being submitted for ratification.
For information the initial consultation was  received from SIFCA as follows:-

I am writing to inform you that Southern IFCA is undertaking a review of net fishing management arrangements for estuary, harbour and pier areas in the district. It is the Authority’s objective to review and, if necessary, develop netting regulations to:

  1. Support the use of estuaries and harbours by bass and other fish populations as nursery and refuge areas;
  2. Provide protection to migratory fish species as they transit through our estuaries and harbours; and, within these areas

iii.    Balance the social and economic benefits and different needs of users in exploiting the fishery.

At this stage we are undertaking an eight-week public consultation to seek your views on a series of proposed measures. The closing date for this consultation is Friday 7th December 2018. The consultation document, supporting evidence and background papers are available on the Authority’s website from these links (apologies but the previous link to the consultation document was broken due to a SIFCA update):-

 Link 1 =  consultation document PLUS Link 2 =  Supporting Evidence 

or hard copies can be obtained from the Southern IFCA office. The website also includes further information on opportunities to engage through one-on-one meetings or stakeholder drop-in sessions.

Through this consultation we would especially like to receive your views and any additional evidence relating to our proposals for:

  • ·        changes to the way that net use is managed in harbour and estuarine areas;
  • ·        new net prohibition zones around pier structures;
  • ·        an increase in the minimum legal size for grey mullet species; and
  • ·        a series of defining principles for ring net use.

This consultation process will inform the development of any future management, it is therefore important that you provide evidence-based feedback in your response. Upon the conclusion of this consultation a summary of the responses received will be published on the Authority’s website, together with any further developments as part of this review, including information about any further public consultation. Following a review of this and any further evidence the Authority will consider whether regulation by way of byelaw is necessary and justified. If a byelaw is made, prior to confirmation, it will subject to a formal consultation and stakeholders will have an opportunity at this stage to make representations. The byelaw will only come into force following confirmation by the Secretary of State. Details of this process may be found

Thank you for taking the time to engage in this important process.

Simon Pengelly

Existing Byelaws:-
The association of all IFCAs has introduced as at 2020 an interactive map of England where you can select certain types of restrictions to be shown on a map which can be zoomed into areas of your interest.
To access the map, click on:  Interactive management measures map
The following enacted by the Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (SIFCA) 
The Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority took over responsibility for inshore commercial fishing from the old Southern Sea Fisheries Committee & was additionally given authority to also regulate the activities of recreational sea anglers (RSAs) including the gathering of marine bait of all descriptions. Their web site includes full details of all their byelaws which mostly affect just commercial fishermen.  SIFCA byelaws are here List of Byelaws
The Angling Trust has emphasised that its position regarding anglers selling their boat caught catch is that any such angler is not a recreational sea angler but is instead an unlicensed commercial fisherman performing an illegal act.
Restrictions on inshore bottom trawling (not mid water trawling)
Whilst not directly affecting Anglers, the SIFCA bottom towed gear byelaw will be of some interest: This relatively recent & now enacted byelaw prohibits the use of all forms of towed fishing gear from (amongst others) a significant number of areas round the Solent coast of the IW as well as inshore round the entire south coast of the IW from Bembridge round to the Needles. SIFCA was sent letters of support for this byelaw on behalf of IW anglers. Alan Deeming has received assurance from SIFCA that the practice of dragging chain or poles round set nets to frighten fish into them is prohibited. This practice had been previously observed being carried out by at least one local commercial fisherman.
See chart below for areas where the use of bottom towed fishing gear is now prohibited.
IW Chart
Restrictions on bait gathering.
Note that hand gathering included within the byelaw covers all forms of gathering, not just digging, but with the exception of the use of push nets for prawns/shrimps.
Anglers are directly affected by the SIFCA Hand Gathering in Seagrass beds prohibition byelaw. Both Tony Williams & Alan Deeming were heavily involved in trying to minimise the impact on bait gathering on local beaches that would have resulted from a byelaw that has now been enacted by Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (SIFCA). They initially challenged the entire validity of the proposed byelaw that sought to prevent the collection of any worm, shellfish or crab by any hand method within seagrass beds. Despite eventually being able to get Fish Legal (the legal support arm of the AT) to submit official legal argument against it, this failed so Tony & Alan were faced with having to seek concessions to the benefit of RSA. Alan was eventually able to obtain confirmation that anchoring whilst fishing (angling) from a boat was not prohibited by the byelaw. It is also thought that representations made by Tony to the then fisheries minister, Richard Benyon, regarding allowing the continued use of push nets for prawns, resulted in the final wording of the byelaw specifically excluding any control on the use of such nets. Tony & Alan did not involve themselves with proposed restricted areas on the mainland coast so there were 2 main local proposed areas of particular concern that they addressed: East Cowes (between the breakwater & Old Castle Point) and most of Ryde Sands.
Being local to him, Alan concentrated on East Cowes where the originally proposed area boundary not only included the harbour side of the breakwater but also took in the road along the seafront. A particular restriction within the byelaw would have meant that anyone driving along the road with a fork or spade in the car would technically be committing an offence. After a lot of discussion with SIFCA they eventually amended the boundary to only reach mean high water and they incorporated the breakwater as a boundary line, thus allowing collection on the harbour side. Unfortunately, as the seagrass bed here is recorded as extending for the entire area between the breakwater & the sand spit at Old Castle Point, no concession could be obtained to allow the (all be it low level) digging of lugworm to continue.
Being local to him, Tony concentrated on Ryde Sands. One main concern here was that, although the main lugworm beds do not exist within the seagrass, SIFCA had added a wide buffer zone round the charted seagrass beds which resulted in the adjacent lugworm beds being included in the controlled zone. This was compounded by the seagrass bed being a complicated shape and SIFCA had simplified the outline of the controlled zone by drawing long straight lines which resulted in more of the lugworm beds to be included. After a lot of dialogue, Tony succeeded in getting the boundaries amended to a point where some significant lugworm beds now remain accessible.
As of Nov 2017 SIFCA has failed to erect any notices regarding the restricted areas on the IW despite being requested to on numerous occasions.
Damage to Seagrass beds at Ryde Sands: As a side issue relating to the above byelaw, Tony compiled a photo based report on the ongoing damage being caused to the seagrass beds by the (probably unlawful) dumping of spoil from Ryde harbour and the Monkton Mead storm water outfall onto the seagrass beds by heavy plant. It proved difficult to get any government body to acknowledge interest in this matter but eventually in early 2014 someone from the MMO accepted the report for their consideration. In addition, the winter storms of 2013/4 have resulted in significant changes to the intertidal sand which may require the seagrass beds to be resurveyed at some point. In November 2014 further work on Ryde Sands associated with the Monkton Mead storm water outfall has resulted in further extensive damage to the eco-system of the sands resulting from heavy plant & diggers transporting large amounts of sand further down the coast & depositing it in the intertidal zone. It is difficult to see how any angling related activity restrictions arising from the designation of an MCZ here could be justified in the light of this latest highly damaging yet authorised activity. SIFCA has no authority to regulate activities not directly related to fishing/angling & the responsibility lies with the MMO which has so far failed to take any action.
It should not be forgotten that the seagrass dies back over winter and re-grows in the spring. Southern IFCA plus other government agencies use the survey of local seagrass beds that is published by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildelife Trust on an annual basis. The trust attempted to re-survey the seagrass around the entrance to Bembridge harbour in mid 2014 but it was not totally successful due to equipment problems. Alan is now listed to receive copied of new versions of the report as they become available but as of 2017, funding has been restricted & the surveys reduced.
The following charts show restricted areas on IW but some reference numbers for boundary points do not tie up with those in the latest SIFCA byelaw as the numbers were changed after some of the charts were provided.
Seagrass chart IW 3Restricted Area Thorness Bay
East Cowes Hand Gather 2016
Restricted Area East Cowes 
Woodside handRestricted areas Osborne to Woodside
Ryde detailed Final

Restricted areas around  Ryde Sands 

Hand Work Byelaw chart019Restricted Areas around Bembridge


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