Poole Harbour Shellfish Management

From 1st July 2015, fishing for shellfish in Poole Harbour is managed through:
The Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw
The Poole Fishery Order 2015
The Poole Fishery Order 2015 Revised Management Plan 2017

The Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw

The Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw regulates the wild fishery for shellfish through the issue of permits.

The flexible byelaw sets out that a permit is required, the criteria for eligability to hold a permit, the types of permit conditions and the provision to issue dispensations. Without either a permit or a dispensation no person on board or by means of a vessel shall use, retain on board, store or transport a dredge within Poole Harbour, where a 'dredge' means a dredge, scoop or similar device and any auxiliary hydraulic equipment that is designed for, or capable of taking any shellfish.

The permit sets out the conditions for operating within the fishery, under a number of categories:
  • Catch restrictions and reporting
  • Gear types
  • Gear construction and restrictions
  • Spatial and temporal restriction
  • The fitting of specified equipment to vessels

A copy of the 2019-2020 permit outlining the full permit conditions can be viewed here

A permit is issued to a person in respect of a named relevant fishing vessel with the permit holder being a shareholder of the vessel. No more than two permits can be issued for a single vessel.

A copy of the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Access Policy 2019 for the administration of permit entitlements for the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw can be viewed here.

The dredge fishing season in the Harbour runs from 25th May to 23rd December each year and within the season certain areas are closed at key times of year for overwintering and breeding bird species. Between 1st November to 23rd December and 25th May to 30th June, the bird sensitive areas at Brands Bay South and West, Newton Bay, Ower Bay, parts of Wych Lake and Middlebere Lake, Arne Bay and Keysworth are closed with additional permanent prohibitions to activity in the areas of Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay and the upper areas of Wych Lake and Middlebere Lake. A map showing the closures can be viewed here. As part of the permit conditions, permit entitlement holders must complete a monthly catch return of species and quantities caught in the fishery and hours fished, a copy of the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Monthly Catch Return Data Policy can be viewed here and an electronic copy of the catch return form can be found on our Useful Documents page.

The flexible byelaw approach allows the Authority to review the suitability of permit conditions, permit fees and limitations on the number of permits every three years or sooner in accordance with a set procedure whcih includes consultation meetings with permit holders to present available data and discuss options. When conducting a review, the Authority has regard of:
  • Any duties and obligations under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009
  • Any available scientific and survey data
  • Any statutory advice given given by Natural England
  • Any Habitats Regulations Assessment
  • An Impact Assessment relating to any proposed changes to additional permit conditions or permit fees
  • Any feedback recieved from consultation with permit holders


The Poole Fishery Order 2015

The Poole Fishery Order 2015 was introduced on 1st July 2015 to replace the Poole Fishery Order 1985 which expired on that day. The Poole Fishery Order 2015 is a Several Order which allows the Southern IFCA to lease ground, severed from the public fishery, for aquaculture. The ability to lease ground for aquaculture under a fishery Order has been in place in Poole Harbour since 1915 and the new Order, granted for a period of 20 years, allows the Southern IFCA to continue to develop and support the potential for aquaculture in the Harbour.

The accompanying Management Plan for the Order outlines the extent of the proposed Order and how the area within that extent will be managed including the positioning and allocation of leased beds and the process, criteria and conditions by which access to leased beds is determined. The extent of the Order covers an area of 837.8 hectares and allows for the potential expansion of aquaculture and cultivation activity within the Harbour without overlapping with habitats of conservation importance or areas where existing public fisheries may be adversely affected.

The Order covers shellfish species as defined in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 as 'crustaceans and molluscs of any kind'. This allows the Southern IFCA to be flexible with regard to the shellfish species that could potentially be the subject of aquaculture activity within the Harbour and management of individual species will be considered on a case by case basis as leased areas within the extent are developed.

There are currently 31 beds leased within the extent of the Order. Each leasee provides the Authority with a business plan outlining how the ground will be used and an accompanying biosecurity plan. This information is used in the overarching biosecurity plan produced by the Southern IFCA which outlines the types of activities occuring within the Order extent, any potential biosecurity risks, inspection procedures and mitigation for the movement, laying and removal of sea fisheries resources within the area. 

For any leased ground allocated, there are a number of management measures applied including a restriction on vessel length, the persons and vessels that can operate and remove shellfish from a leased bed and a requirement that for all shellfish species removed that are also subject to commercial fisheries in Poole Harbour, minimum size restrictions apply (for a full list of these species please refer to the Management Plan).
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