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Guernsey Consults on Bag Limits for Anglers

Aug 25,2006 SACN

SACN has obtained a copy of a letter sent to Interested parties regarding a consultation aimed at imposing bag limits on anglers visiting Guernsey.

The letter is reproduced below. 

Obviously anyone who is likely to be affected, or has views on these proposals should respond.

21st August 2006

Dear Stakeholder



The Commerce and Employment Department is aware that fishing effort by charter angling vessels operating within Bailiwick of Guernsey waters has increased markedly in recent years. 

In 1998, 11 vessels visited Alderney and fished for 177 days, this increased to 20 boats and 356 days in 2004 and for 2006 there are at least 50 charter boats offering trips to Alderney. 

The majority of these vessels do not have fishing licences and benefit from a derogation in licensing legislation that allows “recreational angling” on vessels where the anglers are fishing wholly for pleasure.

This means that neither the anglers nor the vessel operator (skipper) can benefit financially from the fish they catch (from sale or trade).

Fishing activity by such vessels is currently unregulated and charter angling vessels have been observed catching significant quantities of commercially high value species such as turbot and bass. 

Licensed fishermen are required to record their catches in log books, which show that 7 tonnes of turbot were landed in 2005, there are no catch statistics for charter vessels but using information from various sources it is estimated that a similar amount was taken by charter anglers in 2005.

Assessment of the sustainability of fish stocks is difficult and can be inaccurate.

However the Department holds very good records of fish landed and catch per unit effort (CPUE) of the licensed fishing fleet. 

If the CPUE starts to decline it may be necessary to impose restrictions to protect fish stocks, this can be easily applied to licensed fishermen because legislation to restrict their activity is currently in place. 

Reports from various fishermen suggest that, in 2006, the turbot fishery is down on previous years with fewer and smaller fish appearing on the banks.

The Department recognises that charter angling operations make a significant contribution to the local economy, which it is desirable to maintain. 

A number of Bailiwick guesthouses and hotels are benefiting directly from this growth in angling tourism. 

However, if this increase in effort causes fish stocks to decline, these charter trips will become unattractive to anglers who will look for new areas to fish. 

The unrecorded landing of large quantities of fish from charter vessels undermines the fishing vessel licensing scheme. 

The introduction of catch allowances will assist the enforcement of licensing legislation.

The problems associated with charter angling vessels has been addressed by other jurisdictions, for example, in Jersey waters only registered fishing vessels holding fishing licences may operate charter angling trips. 

This is another option that might be considered but is not proposed in this consultation because of the greater potential disruption to this significant activity enhancing the visitor economy of the Bailiwick


The charter fleet operates predominately during spring and summer months. 

In 2004, the first vessel arrived in Alderney on 1st April with activity ceasing by early October.

The main species targeted are turbot and brill on the sandbanks of the Schole and the Casquets, wreck fishing the Hurd Deep for conger, pollack, ling and cod, bass fishing over reef marks particularly around the Alderney South Banks and Race, and tope fishing at various locations.

Angling is widely regarded as a low impact fishing technique. 

While being generally selective and free from the bycatch and discarding associated with other forms of fishing such as trawling, it can, in fact, be a relatively efficient catching method.

The Boue Blondel rod and line fishery provides a good example of the effectiveness of angling where 49 tonnes of bass (20,000 fish assuming 2.5kg average per fish) were caught in 10 weeks during the winter of 2004.  This was 53% of the total bass landed by the commercial fleet in that year.

Recreational bag limits are used as a management measure all over the world being particularly popular for certain fisheries in Australia and the United States, where the angling sector is recognized as a significant influence on fish stock abundance. 

The striped bass fishery along the eastern seaboard of the United States has had bag limits enforced for many seasons as part of a raft of measures imposed on the fishery.

Bag limits are easy to enforce and are best suited where there is a good opportunity that fish returned as a consequence of the bag limit have a good survival rate. 

As such they are particularly suited to angling, although where this practice is undertaken over deep waters such as wrecks, fish have a generally low survival rate. 

Restricting effort in such fisheries is more appropriate than a bag limit. 

The bag limit is also an important psychological management tool that attempts to change the attitude of those who retain all fish of legal size beyond that needed for their immediate use. 

The Department is currently considering how to improve the way we manage the charter fishery. 

A measure under consideration is the introduction of legal controls under existing legislation designed to restrict effort by charter angling vessels not in possession of a valid fishing licence (i.e. a bag limit) by defining how many fish of each species may be retained on board.


The Department recognises that you may be a stakeholder affected by these proposals so the purpose of this document is to seek your comments and input on this issue and in particular to the proposal to introduce catch allowances as outlined below.


The Commerce and Employment Department is concerned that the cumulative fishing effort and quantity of fish landed by charter angling vessels not in possession of a fishing licence undermines the principal of restrictive licensing legislation.

Furthermore, such activity could have, for no clear purpose, a negative influence on the abundance of commercial and sport fishing species in Bailiwick waters.
The Department’s intention is to maintain the sustainability of these species on fishing grounds throughout these waters, not only for the benefit of the commercial sector but also to keep a thriving recreational fishery in the future.


1. The Department proposes that a total catch allowance is introduced applicable to commercially licensed charter angling vessels, not in possession of a fishing vessel licence, carrying anglers fishing for pleasure.

2. It is suggested that the allowance should be 2 each of turbot, brill, bass, pollack, cod, rays (order Raja) and black bream, per person onboard (excluding skipper), per vessel, be introduced.  These limits will apply within the territorial waters of Guernsey, and within British Fishery Limits adjacent to Guernsey (the 12 mile area), irrespective of where the fish were caught.

3. To aid with the enforcement of catch allowances and to ensure minimum landing sizes are adhered to, the Department proposes that retaining filleted fish, of the species outlined above, on board unlicensed charter angling vessels would be prohibited.

4. To deter the practice of high grading (selecting the best fish to meet a catch limit from a total catch and discarding the rest), the Department is considering implementing a discard ban on the species specified in 1 above. 

5. The Department has invited Alderney and Sark to consider implementing similar restrictions in their territorial waters and will be working closely with the Authorities in those Islands to agree a policy that will be to the long-term benefit to our Islands and the environment. 

What this might mean in practice, is that a seven person charter (skipper excluded) would be permitted to retain onboard at any time, a maximum of 14 of any of the above species irrespective of the amount of days spent in Bailiwick waters or where the fish were caught.

It will be the Masters’ responsibility to ensure compliance with the vessels catch allowance.

Any of the above species landed ashore at the end of each day of a multi-day charter would count against that vessel’s total allowance.

Response from anglers

Catch allowances should be restrictive if they are to make any difference to the present situation. 

It is envisaged that the “catch everything” attitude of some anglers will change to a conservative catch and release policy.

It is also recognised that fish caught in certain fisheries, “wreck fishing” for example are unlikely to survive once brought to the surface, so the introduction of limits should stop anglers from “winching up” as many fish as they can and encourage a more responsible sport fishery aimed at catching prime specimens on lighter tackle.

Comments are requested from anglers on the current catch and retention practices on board charter vessels and how these proposals may influence anglers wishing to visit local waters.


If you would like to comment on these proposals please respond in writing by Friday 13th October 2006 to the

Senior Sea Fisheries Officer,

Commerce and Employment Department,

Raymond Falla House,

PO Box 459,

Longue Rue,

St Martins,

Guernsey GY1 6AF

(01481 234567).

Yours sincerely
Stuart Falla

Further details will be appearing on the SACN website for the Channel Islands

SACN - Channel Islands

And on the Associated discussion forum h e r e

*** Latest News ***

The deadline for responses has been put back until 30th November


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comment Comments (1 posted) 
  • Obviously the channel islanders will do what is best for their fishery. I am slightly concerned that this is the start of things to come for the UK. Glenn Kilpatrick http://whitbyseaanglers.blogspot.com/ http://www.whitbyseaanglers.co.uk/northeastfishingnews.php
(Posted on August 25, 2006, 6:50 pm Glenn Kilpatrick)

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