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Pot & Trap Fisheries

Pot and trap fishing have been a key part of the South Coast’s history for generations. In the Southern IFCA District we have more than 220 fishers who use pots or traps commercially in the District. The largest pot fishery targets whelks, a marine mollusc, and uses small, often round, baited whelk pots. Whelks are targeted mostly in the first half of the year from January to June. Larger D shaped parlour pots are used to target brown/edible crab, and/or european lobster. Edible crab are targeted all year around, whilst lobsters are caught mainly over summer. In the spring from April to June some fishers also target cuttlefish using cuttlefish traps. These are large and round, with fingered entrances.

In 2019 more than 1420 tonnes of Whelk were caught in the district at a value of £1.8 million. 343 tonnes of brown crab, 145 tonnes of cuttlefish and 54 tonnes of lobster were also caught in the district. The total value of all four species in 2019 was more than £3.9 million.

Whelk fishing occurs mainly in sandy bays such as Poole Bay and Lyme Bay. In the past whelks were also fished in the Solent. Crab and lobster fishing occurs over or near to rocky ground. Predominantly this is found in Lyme bay, along the Purbeck Coast, and South of the Isle of Wight. Cuttlefish are caught during their spawning period, because cuttlefish die soon after spawning. Cuttlefish prefer areas near to sediment to spawn but need substrate such as rocks to attach their eggs to. Most of the District’s cuttlefish fishing occurs within the Solent.

Fishery Monitoring and Stock Assessments

Surveyed stock assessments of crab, lobster, whelk and cuttlefish fisheries are not completed by Southern IFCA at present. However, to help inform our Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) byelaw review, whelk sampling from four locations across the district will be undertaken in 2021. The samples will be analysed to assess the size at which 50% of the population become sexually mature.

However, other stock assessments are available. In 2019, Ella (a Southern IFCA intern) completed catch assessments of the crab and lobster fisheries throughout the District and the south coast. These assessments used the data supplied by vessels on Monthly Shellfish Activity Returns. The data was analysed to detect any changes in Catch Per 100 Pots over time. You can find the assessments here:

In addition, CEFAS carry out bi-annual stock assessments of the crab and lobster fisheries around England. You can find the most recent stock assessment which covers our District here:

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 conservation objectives. If this document finds that the activity could hinder the site, Southern IFCA must create appropriate management measure to mitigate the risks. Below are the assessments of pot and trap fishing activities in Southern IFCA’s MPAs. As of 2020, Southern IFCA has not been required to introduce management as a result of these assessments.

Credit: Guy Mitchell
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