Cornwall IFCA River and Estuarine Fishing Nets Byelaw 2017
A new byelaw has come into force which bans netting for sea fish (with a small number of specific exceptions) in Cornwall’s rivers and estuaries.
It is also an offence to even carry a net on board a vessel while undertaking any fishing activity for sea fish (including shellfish) in any of the rivers or estuaries in the Cornwall IFCA district.
This Cornwall IFCA River and Estuarine Fishing Nets Byelaw 2017 has been developed to ‘rebalance access to sea fish’ in Cornwall’s rivers and estuaries in favour of hook and line fisheries.
The byelaw will also add extra protection for some fish stocks, including bass and mullet, and increase the protection for juvenile fish which congregate in rivers at the start of their lives. In addition the byelaw will modernise a suite of legacy byelaws inherited by Cornwall IFCA making them much more enforceable.
The Byelaw was placed before the public for formal consultation in September and October 2016.This consultation received an unprecedented response from the public, many in support, and some in opposition but most supporting the principle but requesting some changes. As a result, there was a considerable amount of additional time spent working with Defra to make modifications to this byelaw to resolve the concerns raised.
The modifications made by Defra relate to the use of ebb nets. Ebb netting is an unusual, traditional, method of fishing where a single panel of fishing net is fixed between two poles, pivoted from one side of a vessel, where the vessel is moored in a river, estuary, channel or stream. Currently there are only a very small number of people using this method for recreational purposes. Under this new byelaw anybody wishing to use an ebb net must now obtain a permit from Cornwall IFCA, and make an annual report of all fish taken using ebb nets in the Cornwall IFCA district. There is also a requirement to give prior notice (between 4 and 24 hours) before going ebb netting.
Sam Davis, Cornwall IFCA Chief Officer said, “Developing this byelaw has been a lengthy and complicated process, however we are delighted that we have the byelaw in place. This is the first time we have created a byelaw to balance between different sectors and we hope this bylaw will greatly improve the access for hook and line fisheries to these key areas in Cornwall. This byelaw will also greatly improve our ability to carry out enforcement activities in Cornwall’s rivers, one of our highest priorities”.
Under the Cornwall IFCA River and Estuarine Fishing Nets Byelaw 2017, it is now an offence to use a net for sea fish in any of the rivers or estuaries within the Cornwall IFCA district. It is also an offence to carry a net on board a vessel while engaged in any fishing activity within the rivers and estuaries. The prohibition on carrying or using a net does not apply to various low impact nets such as:
• Landing nets.
• Sand eel seine nets used under a permit issued by Cornwall IFCA.
• Ebb nets used under a permit issued by Cornwall IFCA.
You can find a full text of the byelaw at our website by following this link
Cornwall IFCA manages the inshore fisheries around the Cornish coast out to the six nautical mile limit, including within rivers and estuaries up to their tidal limits.
In 2001 Cornwall IFCA took over from the preceding Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee, with an extended district which for the first time included all Cornwall’s rivers and estuaries. As part of this new extended district Cornwall IFCA inherited legacy byelaws from various other organisations. Since 2011 there has been on ongoing process of reviewing and making new byelaws to manage the fisheries as they are today.
The byelaw has now been confirmed by Defra and is therefore now law. Further to the information above the byelaw makes it is an offence, with specific exceptions listed below, to use a net for the purposes of taking sea fish from any of the rivers or estuaries in the Cornwall IFCA district. In addition, it is also an offence to carry a net on board a vessel while undertaking any fishing activity for sea fish (including shellfish) in any of the rivers or estuaries in the Cornwall IFCA district. The prohibition on carrying, or using a net does not apply to the following exceptions:
Ebb nets: As described above, the use of ebb nets is subject to certain conditions, including an annual ebb net permit, annual catch returns and a notification period prior to using the net. In addition, ebb nets cannot be used in the River Tamar (western part) or River Lynher, or in the River Camel or River Fowey from May to December incl. or east of Pinkson Creek in the River Camel from January to April incl.
Sand eel seine nets: Sand eel seine nets are allowed from the shore or from a boat, though their construction and operation is restricted. An annual seine net permit is required from Cornwall IFCA, which requires annual catch returns to be made. Sand eel seines cannot be used in the River Tamar (western part) or River Lynher.
If you require an ebb net permit or a sand eel seine net permit, you can obtain an application form from Cornwall IFCA. There is no charge for either permit.
Various low impact nets:
brailling nets (small nets used for bringing fish aboard a vessel, usually from a trap or larger encircling net);
landing nets used in conjunction with fishing by rod and line or a trolling line;
any net which forms part of a dredge or pot placed or used for fishing for shellfish;
any net which forms part of a trap placed or used for fishing for or taking sea fish, where the trap encloses fish within a framework structure; or
any net which when fully expanded does not exceed an area of four square metres, where it is operated only manually and not in connection with any vessel or mechanical device.
If you would like to find out more about fishing regulations in Cornwall please visit www.cornwall-ifca.gov.uk Or call 01736 336842.
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