|It is not surprising that the Isles of Scilly are commonly known as ‘The Fortunate Isles’ blessed as they are by an excellent climate and a beautiful environment. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, every inch of the coastline is Heritage Coast. There are around 100 islands clustered around shallow, sheltered seas, but untold number of rocks and reefs.
There are around 22 licensed and actively fishing vessels in the Isles of Scilly, 21 using static gear and one small otter trawler. All are day-boats. The jurisdiction of the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority that replaced the Sea Fisheries Committee in April 2011 extends to 6 nautical miles from the baselines around the islands and vessels over 11 metres and 10 gross tonnes are prohibited from fishing within this area.
The local vessels that mainly pot for crustaceans also carry nets for bait and rods or hand-lines for other fishing such as pollack or mackerel. It is estimated that some 3,500 to 5,000 pots are in use during the season.
All the commercial fishing vessels in the Isles of Scilly are worked in a sustainable way and the fishermen have recently agreed to a closed season of three months; a recording scheme within the proposed Marine Conservation Zones; a ban on commercial sand-eel fishing; voluntary v-notching of berried hens; a ban on kelp harvesting; and have proposed a pot limitation byelaw.
As the islands are designated as a European Marine Site (EMS), regular survey work is carried out to ensure that the high quality of the marine environment is maintained. The image below is of a team of Natural England divers on the IFCA RIB preparing to dive on a reef near St. Mary’s.
We also have strong links with the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, Cornwall and in 2011, around 3,000 juvenile lobsters were released in island waters. Further releases are planned each year. The three images below are from a release in September 2014. 2,000 more were released in August 2015.