District Fisheries

The Southern IFCA District comprises a wide variety of marine environments leading to a variety of fishing activities using a range of gear types and fishing for a wide range of species.

Gear Types

There are a number of fishing gear types commonly used across the District. The intensity of usage of a particular gear type and the construction and implementation of the gear varies with different areas of the District.
The most common forms of fishing seen in the District are:

Dredging (General)

General dredging activities are distributed across the Southern IFCA District, with a higher proportion of fishing in Lyme Bay, Poole Harbour and the eastern approaches of the Solent and Southampton Water. Dredging activity comprises mainly scallop dredging, where there is a restriction on dredge construction and the number of dredges per vessel, and oyster dredging, which is limited to a fixed season each year.

Clam Dredging

The highest density of clam dredging is shown to occur in Poole Harbour and Southampton water. Dredging around Southampton Water utilises large box dredges towed from the stern of a vessel which can be operated in deeper water. In Poole Harbour, the Pump-Scoop Dredge method is used which involves pumping seawater through a small metal basket to clean shellfish caught, this method is employed in shallow water areas.  

Cockle Dredging

Cockle dredging has a sporadic distribution across the District with a hotspot in Poole Harbour where the pump-scoop dredge method is also used for this species. The injection of water from the pump is sometimes directed into the seabed when fishing for cockle due to the sandy sediment habitat.  


General trawling activity is District wide. The highest density of activity is focused between Poole Bay and the western approaches of the Isle of Wight. Further high activity levels are focused in the north of the Isle of Wight. Common trawls used are beam trawls and otter trawls, both light and heavy, which are towed along the seabed and pelagic stern trawls.  

Potting (General)

General potting is distributed District wide with a prominent hotspot in Lyme Bay. The main species fished are lobster and brown crab with spider crab also caught. Pots are deployed on strings and baited according to the species targeted. There is a voluntary opportunity for some pots to be fitted with escape gaps.  

Whelk Potting

Higher densities of whelk fishing can be seen in Lyme Bay, towards the eastern approaches of the Solent and south-eastern areas of the Isle of Wight. Strings of pots are deployed and baited, commonly with dogfish and shore crab.  

Cuttlefish Potting

Cuttlefish potting is a District wide activity with higher densities of fishers focusing between the Christchurch area and the north-western approaches to the Isle of Wight and the south-eastern area of the Isle of Wight. This is a seasonal fishery with peak activity during the spring. The pots are baited with female cuttlefish which are caught at the beginning of the season through netting.  


Netting is a District wide activity with two main hotspots to the east of Poole Bay and between Christchurch and the east of the Isle of Wight. A wide variety of netting techniques are used including ring netting and fixed nets, these are only able to be used during certain periods of the year. Netting can occur from both the shore and a vessel.  


Commercial diving for marine species is most popular to the west of the District with the main area of interest in Lyme Bay, off Portland, off Christchurch and Poole Harbour. Diving for scallops is a popular activity.  

Recreational and Commercial Angling

Angling occurs across the District both recreationally and commercially from the shore and from vessels. The Weymouth area is noted for its diversity of fishing and a variety of sheltered locations that enables both on and offshore fishing throughout the year. The Southern IFCA District also has a large charter angling fleet operating out of a number of ports.  

Handgathering and Bait Collection

Handgathering for shellfish and bait occurs across the District with hotspots in Harbours, particularly Poole Harbour and Langstone Harbour. Hand collection involves the manual turning over of the sediment using a fork or rake and occurs both recreationally and commercially. Bait collection is also carried out using a technique called bait dragging from a vessel which is unique to Poole Harbour.  


Aquaculture is currently managed in Poole Harbour through the Poole Fishery Order 1985. Ground is sub-leased from the Southern IFCA for shellfish farming and relaying, currently the main species are the Pacific Oyster and Mussels.


Species Fished

The diversity of habitats in the Southern IFCA District leads to a wide variety of species fished. Below are listed the common species found and fished within the District.

Fish Species

  • Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
  • Black Bream (Spondyliosoma cantharus)
  • Brill (Scophthalmus rhombus)
  • Cod (Gadus morhua)
  • Herring (Clupea harengus)
  • Mackerel (Scomber scomburus)
  • Sole (Solea solea)
  • Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)
  • Dab (Limanda limanda)
  • Flounder (Platichthys flesus)
  • Red Mullet (Mullus surmuletus)   
  • Grey Mullet (Chelon labrosus)
  • Whiting (Merlangius merlangus)
  • Pollack (Pollachius pollachius)
  • Lemon Sole (Microstomus kitt)
  • Conger Eel (Conger oceanicus)
  • Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus)
  • Hake (Merluccius sp.)
  • Ling (Molva molva)
  • Megrim (Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis)
  • Saithe (Pollachius virens)
  • Scad – Horse Mackerel (Trachurus trachurus)
  • Shad (Alosa sp.)
  • Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus)
  • Witch Flounder (Glyptocephalus cynoglossus)
  • Skates and Rays
  • Sharks

Shellfish Species

  • Edible Crab (Cancer pagurus)
  • Spiny Spider Crab (Maja squinado)
  • European Lobster (Hommmarus gamarus)
  • Common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)
  • Native Oyster (Ostrea edulis)
  • King Scallop (Pecten maximus)
  • Common Whelk (Buccinum undatum)
  • Manilla Clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)
  • Hard Shell Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria)
  • Mussels (Mytilus edulis)
  • Warty Venus Clam (Venus verrucosa)
  • Carpet Shell Clam (Ruditapes decussatus)
  • Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)
  • Crawfish (Astacoidea sp.)
  • Queen Scallop (Aequipecten opercularis)
  • Razor Clam (Ensis sp.)
  • Surf Clam (Spisula solida)

Polychaete Species

  • King Ragworm (Alitta virens)
  • Lugworm (Arenicola marina)
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