Sail and oar shellfish dredging in the river Fal given exemption from new byelaw, to protect and support historic Cornish shellfish industries. 

The new legal protection aims to protect local European Marine Sites (EMS) from damaging fishing techniques, and was created by the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA).

There are six European Marine Sites, either wholly or partially within the Cornwall IFCA District, which protect important marine habitats and species of European importance.

The new Closed Areas Byelaw prohibits the use of bottom towed gear within Cornish EMS, with the exception of a small area near the Eddystone Rocks and the historic sail and oar shellfish dredging in the river Fal.

The new byelaw links with a similar byelaw created by Devon and Severn IFCA and the Marine Management Organisation to cover EMS which straddle boundary lines of responsibility.

Cornwall IFCA worked closely with the fishing industry to create a byelaw that establishes the required level of protection for key habitats and species, whilst supporting the vital Cornish shellfish industries.

Cornwall IFCA conducted extensive research to identify ways within one of the European Marine Sites to allow for the continuation of fishing whilst still protecting the key features of the site.

In the River Fal, Cornwall IFCA is creating a regulating order to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the traditional sail and oar oyster and mussel fishery, where unpowered vessels- some dating back to the 1860s, still traditionally fish for shellfish.

Fisheries Minister George Eustice said: “The Cornish Coast will continue to be protected so that it can remain home to a wide array of marine life and the fishermen who have worked here for generations.

“This balance between marine conservation and supporting the fishing industry is key to ensuring the future sustainability of our seas.”

Cornwall IFCA will further develop the protection of EMS with the introduction of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) for the inshore fleet. Initially this will only affect specific vessels fishing inside an EMS however it is anticipated that the majority of vessels that wish to work within the Cornwall IFCA district will require some form of VMS within the next two years. Cornwall IFCA will be entering a formal consultation on a VMS Byelaw in 2014.

If you fish in the Cornwall IFCA District and think this may affect you please visit the Cornwall IFCA website and follow the links on the front page or call us on 01736 336842.