Shellfish Management in Poole Harbour

The wild fishery in Poole Harbour is managed through the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw. Aquaculture is managed in Poole Harbour under The Poole Harbour Fishery Order 2015.

The Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw
The Poole Fishery Order 2015
The Poole Harbour Several Order 2015 Management Plan (2020)

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.

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

Administration of Permit Entitlements

The administration of permits under the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw is set out in the Access Policy. A copy of the Access Policy (2020 version) can be viewed here.

For the 2019-20 season onwards, any permit entitlements which are available each season for a new entrant will be offered to fishers, in order, on the Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Waiting List. The Waiting List is currently closed but the Southern IFCA may take the decision to re-open applications for the Waiting List in the future. At the point that the Waiting List is re-opened, the Southern IFCA will advertise this and the process which applicants will need to follow. Please use this page of our website to keep updated on any information realting to this fishery. 

Poole Harbour Fishery Order 2015

The Poole Fishery Order 2015 ‘The Order’ was introduced on 1st July 2015 to replace The Poole Fishery Order 1985 which expired on that day. The Order is a Several Order which allows the Southern IFCA to lease ground, which is severed from the public fishery, for the purposes of 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.

Under The Order, the first Tranche (T1) of lease beds were allocated for the term 2015 to 2020. Following both the expiration of the T1 allocations on the 30th June 2020 and a need to reallocate some of the T1 lease bed grounds in order to reflect changes in conservation designations in Poole Harbour (specifically with regard to the expansion of the Poole Harbour SSSI in 2018), as well as with consideration of other drivers,  a second round of allocations (T2) have been assigned for the period 2020-2025.

A Management Plan which accompanies The Order, demonstrates how Southern IFCA manage the aquaculture activity within the defined area of Poole Harbour.

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