Defra publish consultation. Defra have published a consultation seeking views on a proposed ban on landing egg-bearing (berried) lobsters and crawfish in England. The questionaire can be found at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/marine/lobsters-crawfish. The consultation will close on 15th May 2017. Defra would particularly like to hear from fishing vessel owners and fishing licence/ shellfish entitlement holders.
IFCA Committee meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for the 20th June 2017
Prosecution. The IFCA successfully prosecuted the owner and skipper of the Newlyn trawler Imogen III on 14th November 2016. The case was heard in the Councl Chamber by three mainland magistrates. The owner and the skipper both pleaded guilty to illegally fishing inside the 6nm limit on a number of occasions through 2016. In mitigation, although pleading guilty, the owner claimed that his fishing inside the limit from time to time was to avoid some hard ground on the edge of the limit to ensure his nets were not damaged and the practice was known and endorsed by the local fishermen who worked in that area. The magistrates concluded however, that the fishing activity was clearly in breach of the regulations and imposed the following penalties; £8,489.16 on the owner and £3,674.06 on the skipper.
Retirement of Chief Fisheries Officer. Despite an earlier notification of retirement, the final date has now been confirmed as 13th Janauary 2017. Steve Watt ahs been responsible for fisheries with the Local Authority since 1990 and oversaw the completion of the change from a Sea Fisheries Committee to the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. His replacement as Chief Officer has been taken up by Paul Whomersley.
Draft Non-Commercial Potting Permit Byelaw. A second version of the draft byelaw is now being considered by the MMO before opening it up to consultaiotn with the local hobby fishermen. Version 2 of the draft byelaw may be seen here - Revised draft byelaw The accompanying Impact Assessment remains as first written and the link may be accessed below under the heading Hobby gear IA.pdf.
No change to permit. Members of the IFCA discussed the possibility of adding a requirement to have an Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS) to the permit allowing a small otter trawler to operate inside two small areas of the European Marine Site where it was considered there is no danger of damage to protected species. However, members agreed that it was not necessary at the present time particularly as the IFCA officers could track the vessel using AIS. The option remains on the permit and will be subject to review in the future.
Draft Non-Commercial Potting Permit Byelaw - the members of the IFCA agreed at the meeting held on 2nd June 2016 to continue the process of making a new byelaw to manage marking gear by hobby potters. The purpose of the byelaw is to ensure that all potting gear used by unlicensed, or hobby fishermen, is properly marked. This will be managed by issuing permits and tags with unique numbers for each applicant, It gives the authority to IFCA officers to seize gear that is not approriately marked without a valid permit. The first version of the draft byelaw may be seen here - Draft Non Commercial Potting Permit Byelaw.pdf - and the accompanying Impact Assessment may be seen here - Hobby gear IA.pdf The next stage is to conduct consultation with the non-0commercial fishermen in the islands before proceeding with advertising.
Application details. The applicant details for the post of Chief Fisheries Officer may be found here - Chief Fisheries Officer
Retirement of Chief Fisheries Officer. The present Chief Fisheries Officer is due to retire on 30th June 2016. The full job specification and application forms will be available shorty and a link will be provided for those interested in taking up this position in the Isles of Scilly.
Change of date of IFCA meeting. The scheduled meeting of the IFCA on March 15th 2016 has been brought forward to March 3rd at 13.30. At 15.00 on the same day will be an open meeting with the commercial fishermen to discuss a proposed byelaw on crawfish - to prohibit the landing of berried hens and to extend the minimum landing size to 110mm from the current 95mm.
New Burdens Funding. The Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, announced in early December that the £3m allocated to IFCAs to support dedictaed inshore fisheries and conservation work is to continue until at least 2020. The Minister recognises that IFCAs have demonstrated value for money. The Isles of Scilly IFCAs share of the £3m amounts to £109,726 per annum.
Non-Native Species. The Marine Management Organisation have asked the IFCAs to display a news bulletin about non native species such as American Lobsters and Dungeness Crabs. Basically, the message is if any of those species are caught, do not release back into the sea as they may threaten the local shellfish by spreading disease or depriving them of their foodstuff. The copy of the news sheet may be found here - Non-Native Species
Change of date of the September IFCA meeting. Due to the absence of key members of the IFCA, the date of the next meeting has been re-arranged to 8th September at 18.30.
The Isles of Scilly IFCA's Annual Plan has now been published and may be accessed through the menu on the opening page.
Fishermen's Association AGM the Annual General Meeting of the Isles of Scilly Fishermen's Association will be held in the Slip Inn of the Mermaid at 5pm on Thursday 26th March.
Data Logging Project. The first three years of the Data Logging Project has now been completed and a report by Professor Steve Hill, Tim Allsop and Anna Cawthray was presented to the Isles of Scilly Ifca at the meeting held on 27th January 2015. The interim report may be seen here Data Logging Project
Lobster and Crawfish Tagging Project. The IFCA is looking for student volunteers to help with the Lobster and Crawfish Tagging Project through the summer of 2015. Information may be found here - Lobster Tagging letter and an application form here - Student information.
Meeting of the Fishermen's Association took place on Thursday 11th December in the Mermaid's 'Slip Inn.' The main item on the agenda was consideration of a draft Crustacea and Fishing Gear Permit byelaw. Although many of the proposals within the draft byelaw had come from the members of the Association, it was decided at the meeting to take no further action at this time on the pot limitation proposal that would have affected both commercial and hobby fishermen, although the members believed the idea should be kept on 'the back burner.' Prizes for their help with the Lobster and Crawfish Tagging Project were collected by Kit Legg, Nick Jenkins and Richard Jenkins. The meeting was followed by a Christmas dinner upstairs in the restaurant.
Lobster and Crawfish Tagging Presentation will take place in the Council Chamber (Garrison Lane) on Monday 15th December. It will give the public the chance to look over the recent work of the IFCA and in particular the Lobster and Crawfish tagging project. There will be live shellfish in a tank and the two officers will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate how to tag a lobster. The presentation will take place between 11am and 2pm.
Marine Conservation Society give "GOOD" rating for the IFCA's method of dealing with Red Risk activities. A status report published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Client Earth have rated the Fishing Gear Permit byelaw made by the Isles of Scilly IFCA in March 2014 as GOOD. The byelaw has introduced a restriction on bottom-trawling inside the Isles of Scilly Complex - the European Marine Site - and the MCS has said it is a good example of where the precautionary principle has been applied in accordance with Article 6(3) of the European Habitats Directive.
Site Improvement Plan for the Isles of Scilly Complex. A press release on Natural England's Improvement Programme for England's Natura 2000 Sites regarding the Isles of Scilly's European Marine Site is below:
Site Improvement Plan
Possible New Management of Unlicensed Fishermen. Following a three-year campaign to introduce a working solution through a voluntary code of practice, or 'gentlemen's agreement,' the members of the IFCA, on hearing that the Fisheries Officer had identified 196 unmarked buoys around the islands resolved to incorporate regulation into the new proposed Crustacea Byelaw. The Maritime Officer had organised several meetings and produced a Hobby Fishermen's Information Leaflet in the last three years, and although many of the unlicensed fishermen were following the code of practice there was a large number who were not. The section within the byelaw on a limited shellfish permit for hobby fishermen will include restrictions on the number of pots, marking gear, the number of shellfish allowed to be caught on any calendar day and a prohibition on store pots. A permit scheme may be introduced whereby unlicensed fishermen are given a number of plastic tags that must be attached to their gear. The proposed byelaw will be developed in the winter of 2014/15 and may be in place before the 2015 fishing season.
Fisheries Minister visits the Isles of Scilly. The Under Secretary of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, George Eustice MP, came over to the islands on board the Cornwall IFCA patrol vessel Saint Piran on Tuesday 12th August. He was met on St. Mary's quay by the Chairman of the Isles of Scilly IFCA, Cllr. Andy Guy; the Chairman of the Fishermen's Association, Robert Francis and Dale Clark, the Harbour master. The Minister looked at the ice facility and the hoist on the quayside before going to Star Castle Hotel for lunch. In the afternoon the Minister went on a glass-bottomed boat to look at the sea grass meadows and protected grey seals in the Marine Conservation Zone. George Eustice was full of praise for the MCZ, in particular the way in which fishermen and environmentalists had come together that he said contrasted with elsewhere where there was "tension and disagreement." Although recognising the crucial way in which the Isles of Scilly IFCA is dependent on supporting funding from Defra, he could not promise its continuation beyond the general election, but he did promise to speak to the Treasury.
Broadband Cable. The project to connect the islands to the super-fast broadband network is now underway (July) and the Cable Ship 'Resolute' is raising the Rioja cable that comes out of Porthcurno and will be directing it to St. Mary's. There is a Fisheries Liaison Officer on board from the CFPO and hopefully no fishing activities will be affected.
Fishing Gear Permit Byelaw. This byelaw was signed on behalf of the Secretary of State on 31st March 2014 and the Methods of Fishing Byelaw and the Methods of Fishing (Dredges) Byelaw were both revoked at the same time. See below or the page on the European Marine Site.
Isles of Scilly Fishermen's Association. The Annual General Meeting of the Fishermen's Association was held on Monday 31st March 2014.
Fishing Gear Permit Byelaw The IFCA that met on 10th December 2013 considered the one objection received as part of the consultation process. The new byelaw will retain the current size restrictions on vessels working within the 6mn limit as 6m or 10gt; it adds a clause that all towed gear that is not allowed in certain areas must be inboard, stowed, and lashed; adds a requirement for a permit; and a requirement that all permitted vessels should have an approved inshore Vessel Monitoring System fitted. Subsequently, following advice and help from the Marine Management Organisation the byelaw as listed below was approved by members and is now with the MMO's Marine Conservation and Enforcement Team before going to the Secretary of State for signing.
The byelaw is here: Fishing Gear Permit Byelaw
The Impact Assessment is here: Impact Assessment
Hobby Fishermen's Information Leaflet. The IFCA has produced an information leaflet for unlicensed or hobby fishermen following concerns over the numbers of unmarked pots and floating rope. The leaflet may be found here: Hobby Fishermen's Information Leaflet