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Hand Gathering Fisheries

Gathering of fish and shellfish species along the shore has been carried out commercially and recreationally for centuries along the Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight coasts. 

The most frequently gathered species include Manila clams ( Ruditapes philippinarum ), cockles ( Cerastoderma edule ) and Pacific oysters ( Magallana gigas ). These are gathered at low tide by commercial and recreational gatherers throughout the District, with popular spots including Poole Harbour, The Hamble Estuary, Hill head in the Solent and Portsmouth Harbour.

The collection of bait, most commonly ragworm and lugworm is also carried out by a number of recreational and commercial bait diggers. This activity occurs mainly in the Solent and Poole Harbour where there is suitable sandy or muddy substrate which support these two species of marine worm.

On the Isle of Wight, a different form of hand gathering occurs when the tide is low, but in knee deep water. Recreational fishers use hand held nets which are pushed along the seabed to gather prawns. ‘Push-netting’ can also be used to collect shrimps and, is focused over sediment habitats near to rocks or weedy areas.

Hand gathering in the District is managed through a number of Southern IFCA byelaws. These are designed to protect seagrass beds from damaging digging and trampling activities, and to protect overwintering bird species from disturbance and decreased food availability in our Harbours. Periwinkles are also protected from collection during the summer months. For further information on the Management Measures which apply to hand gathering activities in the district please visit our Shore Gathering Regulations Page.

Fishery Monitoring and Stock Assessments

As hand gathering activities in the district are largely carried out recreationally at a small scale, there is no specific stock assessment which directly relates to these activities. However, manila clams, cockles and native oysters are monitored through the Southern IFCA Poole Harbour stock assessment, and the Solent bivalve and oyster stock assessments. The most recent versions of the assessments can be found below, but please note they are carried out from onboard vessels using dredging equipment and therefore do not represent the interaction of hand gathering activities with these species. 

Marine Protected Area Assessments

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, Southern IFCA has a duty to further the conservation objectives of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) within in the District. For each MPA, Southern IFCA must carry out an assessment of fishing activities within the site, to determine if the activities will hinder the site’s conservation objectives. If this document finds that the activity could impact the site, Southern IFCA must create appropriate management measures to mitigate the risks. Below are the assessments of hand gathering fishing activities in Southern IFCA’s MPAs. As a result of these assessment Southern IFCA will now introduce further management for these activities within the MPAs. 

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