Review of Net Fishing
The harbour and estuarine waters of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are highly biodiverse and ecologically rich habitats, providing valuable nursery and refuge areas for a variety of fish species. These transitional waters also form an important migratory route for salmon and sea trout as they leave and re-enter our riverine environments. The harbours, estuaries and piers in the district are also important places for people, offering a place to enjoy through recreation or somewhere to make an income. In particular, these areas hold great significance for recreational and commercial fisheries.
Net fishing is an activity which has been carried out by fishers in estuaries, harbours and the coastal waters of the Southern IFCA district for generations. Net types and fishing methods have evolved over time to reflect the target species, local environment, technological advances and the persons engaged in the activity. At the same time, the potential impacts of developing fishing methods on the marine environment and fish populations have also changed.
In 2017 the Authority identified, through a strategic review of management measures, that reviewing the management of near-shore netting in the district was a priority. The aim of the review was to enhance the environmental, socio-economic and fisheries sustainability of the Southern IFCA district by addressing four main objectives:
Supporting the use of estuaries and harbours in the Southern IFCA district by bass and other fish populations as nursery, feeding and refuge areas;
Providing protection to migratory fish species as they move through our estuaries and harbours; and, in doing so,
Balance the social and economic benefits of exploiting the fishery; and
Further the conservation objectives of designated sites
An Authority Working Group, consisting of Defra Appointee Members, has been carrying out this review in an evidence based, strategic and proportionate manner. In line with the objectives of the review, Members have considered the effectiveness of existing management and opportunities to strengthen it. The best available evidence from a variety of sources, including the Environment Agency, Natural England and commercial and recreational users has supported decision making throughout this review.
The Authority has undertaken two informal consultations with stakeholders as part of the review:
Through the Authority Working Group, a series of proposals were drafted on which the views of the community were sought through a period of pre-consultation. The consultation ran for a period of 8 weeks from 15th October to 7th December 2018 with the views of the local community being sought through a variety of different methods. A copy of the Summary of Responses document for the pre-consultation can be viewed using the link below:
Public Consultation on Net Fishing Management for Estuaries, Harbours and Piers in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Summary of Responses, January 2019
Members of the Authority Working Group committed to undertaking a review of the draft proposals based on the submission of evidence through the pre-consultation and recommended to the Authority that a Net Fishing Byelaw be drafted to introduce new net fishing measures in the district which addressed the objectives of the review. At this stage the Authority agreed to seek the views of the most affected users through a second round of pre-consultation, targeted towards representative groups. A consultation document was produced for consultees outlining proposed management measures under the Net Fishing Byelaw and representative groups of the potentially most affected and engaged users identified through the review process were contacted and invited to engage with officers and provide a response during the period January to February 2020. A copy of the Summary of Responses document for the secondary pre-consultation can be viewed using the link below:
Secondary Consultation on Potential Net Management Measures for Estuaries, Harbours and Piers Summary of Responses, March 2020