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Bag Limits for Cornwall (Updated 13 Feb 07)

Feb 10,2007 SACN


At a recent meeting of the Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee (attended by six representatives from DEFRA down from London), a proposal that bag limits should be imposed on unlicensed fishermen was put forward and accepted.

A background paper that the committee members considered is available at:

http://db.cornwall.gov.uk/documents/download.aspx?doc=94181

(Other papers relating to the business of the SFC are available at: http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=36244 ).

Whilst we would perhaps support the introduction of bag limits for the purpose of conservation, or even for creating a more robust and productive stock, that formed part of a package applied proportionately to all those removing fish from the stock, we are alarmed at proposals to apply bag limits to anglers, simply to reserve fish for the commercials, protect their market, and/or to make enforcement easier.

(I say 'perhaps' because any acceptance of a future proposal for bag limits by the SACN would need the support of the membership.  Unfortunately the backlash being generated by the current proposals probably make such support of ANY proposals that include bag limits far less likely in future, whatever the circumstances).

The great worry for RSA generally is that once bag limits, even exceptionally generous limits and involving just one species, if applied without those conditions being met, would set a precedent for all species, and for a future lowering of such bag limits as time goes by, achieving no conservation benefit but greatly damaging the Recreational Sea Angling Sector, particularly the charter boat businesses.

SACN have written to Cornwall SFC with a number of questions relating to this item and have receieved a replying assuring us that our detailed questions will be answered within 20 days as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

Should the SFC proceed with the making of a byelaw, it will need to go for public consultation before being approved by DEFRA, giving all parties that object to the byelaw the opportunity to do so, and to state their reasons for doing so.

A notice is normally placed in Fishing News, although SAC has recommended that the SFC consider advertising the notice more widely so that anglers that are affected are also informed.

(We have suggested that they use the Angling press and magazines in addition to Fishing News).

Should the byelaw be confirmed by DEFRA, then we believe that there are a number of grounds upon which it could be legally challenged.

Further background on the bag limit proposals is available at:
http://www.sacn.org.uk/Conservation-and-Political-News/Bag_Limits_for_Anglers.html

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*** 13 Feb 07 ***

SACN have written to Cornwall SFC asking for clarification on a number of issues that have been raised regarding this.

In their reply, Cornwall SFC stress that the committee has not at this stage agreed to apply for a byelaw that will restrict the number of bass that can be taken by anglers.

Rather, after much debate, the committee has asked officers to investigate the situation and to report back to a future meeting (no date fixed).  The report would be complete with recommendations and a draft of a byelaw, if deemed necessary.

They also confirmed that the visit by DEFRA officials had been arranged for some time as a 'fact finding trip' and was not connected to the item on the agenda relating to the discussion of possible bag limits. 

SACN will continue to monitor progress on this issue and report on any future developments.



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