Management Monitoring & Future Work
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Page review/updated 09/10/2023
Management of the three sites consists of voluntary Codes of Conduct, which aim to balance the needs of all user groups by restricting certain commercial fishing activities to preserve the importance of the areas to recreational anglers and charter boats. The vessel size restriction at Skerries Bank maintains access for small commercial fishing vessels that rely on access to the area.
In addition to the Voluntary Codes of Conduct the Skerries Bank sits adjacent to the South Devon Inshore Potting Agreement area which introduced voluntary closures to trawling from 1978 and management through legislation was introduced in the late 1990s. The Skerries Bank itself lies within an area which was closed to trawling under a Devon Sea Fisheries Committee Byelaw, which existed for much of the 20th Century. The Skerries Bank/Start Bay closure to mobile demersal gear is still in place today under D&S IFCA’s Mobile Fishing Permit Byelaw (Category One Permit Conditions). In addition, the Skerries Bank and Burnham, Berrow and Brean beaches now lie within areas that are subject to spatial and temporal prohibitions on certain netting types under the Netting Permit Byelaw (Permit Conditions) which were introduced in 2018, while potting is managed in all areas under the Potting Permit Byelaw (Permit Conditions).
In order to supplement anecdotal information gained through the stakeholder engagement phase and to provide a baseline for monitoring the impacts of implementing small-scale spatial management to benefit the RSA and charter boat sectors, D&S IFCA determined that detailed information regarding the use and compliance of the sites was required and therefore establishe a Monitoring Plan.
This would allow D&S IFCA to understand how different user groups use the sites throughout the year and monitor compliance with the voluntary Code of Conduct.
Monitoring only focused on Skerries Bank and Burnham, Berrow and Brean Angling Zones as these sites were the most complex due to their dual importance to both commercial and recreational fishers. Boat and shore-based surveys were conducted from April 2015 to April 2016 where the type of vessel, fishing activity and number of anglers and rods were recorded. Interviews were conducted, where possible, to establish the awareness of and compliance with the voluntary Code of Conduct. In addition, information on the target species was obtained. Commercial fishers were sent fishing activity logs to complete and return on a monthly basis to obtain data on the location of fishing activities, type of fishing activity and species targeted.
These data have been used to produce the following reports; a baseline report on the Skerries Bank, a shore report for Skerries Bank, a landings and stock assessment for Blonde Rays and Plaice for Skerries Bank, and a report on the Burnham, Berrow and Brean Angling Zone.
Conclusions from the Skerries Bank baseline report suggest that the continued development of a co-management approach, that sits alongside formal management in the form of Permit Byelaws, appears to be the most appropriate way forward. In order to determine whether there have been changes in the use of the site since the original data were collected, D&S IFCA conducted a consultation (A Call for Information) on the Skerries Bank Angling Zone which began on 9th November 2022 and ended on 9thDecember 2022.
The consultation consisted of different questionnaires which were circulated to stakeholders from the commercial, charter boat and recreational fishing sectors. A report that documents the summary of the responses has been finalised and can be read here. A long-term plan for the Skerries Bank Angling Zone will be developed using the information obtained from the consultation.