New Byelaw Regulations Confirmed by DEFRA

scallops in dredge

Two new fisheries byelaw regulations have recently been confirmed by Defra relating to the exploitation of scallops and shellfish within the North Eastern IFC Authority’s district, which covers an area from the River Tyne in the North to the South Bank of the Humber Estuary and seaward to 6 nautical miles from coastal baseline points.

Scallop Management

During 2014 the authority was subject to a significant and unprecedented increase in scallop dredging activity which led to the introduction of an emergency byelaw regulation, closing the authority’s district to all dredging activity. Since the emergency closure, Officers have been working on a new district wide regulation which was subject to formal consultation during October 2015. Following careful consideration of a wide and diverse range of comments received, during both the formal and informal consultation processes, a new management regulation was formally confirmed by Defra on 17 December 2015.

The new byelaw sets out a range of provisions governing scallop dredging within the authority’s district including:

  • Maximum number of ten dredges per vessel and a maximum beam length of 5 m.

  • Annual closed season – 1 May to 31 October INCLUSIVE

  • Daily closed period 7pm to 7am

  • All permit holders must submit monthly catch and effort returns to the Authority

  • All gear must comply with relevant UK and EC fisheries legislation

  • All scallop vessels must operate a full functioning Automatic Identification System (AIS)

  • A requirement that all vessels hold a valid scallop dredging permit

  • The Authority will decide on the number of permits it makes available (if any)

  • A charge of £500 will be levied for each permit

  • Only vessels meeting the following criteria will be eligible to apply for permits:

    • Maximum overall length of 12m and 221KW  - or

    • Maximum overall length of 18.3m and 400KW and able to demonstrate a track record of catching and landing scallops within the authority’s district in any three month period prior to December 2013

Please note that the new byelaw regulation sets a timeline for owners of vessels which fall into the 12 to 18.3 m overall length criteria and 221 to 400 KW engine power and possess a valid track record of catching and landing scallops within the Authority’s district. If your vessel falls into this category you should contact NEIFCA by post or email before the 28 March 2016 if you wish your vessel to be considered for any future permit tranches. Any such enquiries received after that date will not be considered.

Currently officers are re-evaluating the fishery and until that process is complete no scallop permits will be issued and the fishery will remain closed until further notice.

Shellfish Management

Following three years work and extensive consultation a new shellfish management byelaw regulation was formally confirmed by Defra on 17 November 2015.

The byelaw sets out a range of provisions governing the exploitation of shellfish within the Authority’s district including the following: 

  • A new minimum edible crab size of 140 mm carapace width throughout the Authority’s district

  • Mandatory escape gaps (80 mm x 46 mm) in all pots

  • Maximum vessel size inside 3 nautical miles – 14 m OAL North of Tees, 12.5 m OAL South of Tees.

  • Prohibition on the removal of parts of crab and lobster

  • Prohibition on the removal of ‘clawless lobsters’

The timelines for the implementation and enforcement of the main components are as follows; 

  • Increase in edible crab minimum landing size to 140mm – 1st January 2016

  • Restrictions in vessels size within 3nm -  1st January 2016

  • Inclusion of mandatory escape gaps within all pots - 1st June 2016

  • All other components of the byelaw will be enforced from 1st January 2016