Patrick explained that one of his tasks was to increase dialogue with anglers. Aided by surveys completed by anglers, SIFCA is formulating an angling strategy that should see more engagement with anglers. To that end, SIFCA were intending to set up an angling liaison group that would include a number of anglers from across the SIFCA controlled region. Alan Deeming had initially been approached as a possible representative for the IW.
Neil Richardson explained that SIFCA were actively looking at the need for local control measures for Bass. To that end, a Bass working group had been set up that includes anglers one of which is an officer of the Bass Anglers' Sport fishing Society (BASS). He advised that SIFCA fully accept that there is an unacceptable decline in stocks of Bass and are aware of the Cefas recommendation for an immediate 80% reduction in mortality. Whilst this is being debated at EU level, Defra has indicated that there is a requirement for domestic control measures to be put in place. He indicated that SIFCA has the power to introduce byelaws that are more stringent than possible EU restrictions. He also mentioned the EU were to discuss the possibility of a 1 Bass per person per day bag limit for just anglers.
Neil also mentioned that SIFCA were looking in more detail at the use of nets inshore & in estuaries. As a result of their powers having been extended to include the full tidal extents of harbours & estuaries that were not previously under their control, they were beginning to look at the Western Yar, Newtown Creek, River Medina & Wootton Creek. Alan Deeming advised that they should also possibly consider Bembridge Harbour.
Ian James said he had recently joined SIFCA from Sussex IFCA and his brief within SIFCA was primarily enforcement. He explained that their limited resources meant that they operated a risk based approach to enforcement. Basically this means looking at the severity of any possible infringement combined with the predicted likelihood of it occurring (based mainly on historical evidence). To aid enforcement, SIFCA is due to take delivery of a new patrol rib in 2015 that will be dedicated to patrolling IW & Solent waters. In response to a comment forwarded from Tony Williams, he stated that it was illegal for commercial nets not to be cleared before being transported to a different location. He specifically requested that all anglers report any suspicious fishing activity to the SIFCA office number 01202 721373. Reports without any specific evidence would still be useful in allowing SIFCA to build a picture of possible illegal activity.
Ian asked what anglers would like to see in the way of information from SIFCA . Alan Deeming suggested that a prime requirement would be details of the areas closed to bait gathering. He pointed out that due to the number of visitors to the sites that signage would be a requirement. Neil asked if details of SIFCA prosecutions would be of interest & Alan responded that ones related fin fish would be but not any related to shell fish.
There then followed an open discussion when SIFCA responded to a few general questions.
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