UK launches Lyme Bay sole fishery consultation

The UK Government, through the Marine Management Organisaton, has unveiled a series of measures connected to the sole fishery in Lyme Bay following an extensive consultation and workshop with stakeholders earlier this year.

The consultation, developed with a steering group of fishers, scientists, policy makers and fisheries managers, sought stakeholders’ views on the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the sole fishery in the area. It was launched following ongoing discussions about how to respond to reports of increased sole fishing in Lyme Bay, competition for fishing space, gear conflicts, and a reduction in the volume of sole catches and the size of the fish.

This was followed by a workshop with key representatives from the fishing industry to discuss the key issues in Lyme Bay and ways forward to manage the sole fishery and gear conflict.

In brief, MMO will:

  • Create a new vessel licence condition requiring enhanced visibility and identification of passive gear
  • Publish a form for reporting lost and found gear that can be used without the need for names in order to improve data on the frequency of these events
  • Set a reduced sole catch limit of 200kg for non-sector vessels fishing with scallop dredges in ICES area 7e
  • Hold discussions with Producer Organisations about ways members can reduce sole bycatch when fishing with dredges
  • Support additional research to understand the potential need, benefits and risks of changes to minimum landing sizes or gear configurations
  • Facilitate a meeting for representative industry members to discuss the potential for separating areas of Lyme Bay for use by different fishing methods at different times of the year. It will be hosted by MMO in early 2024. Anyone wisihing to be involved in the meeting is advised to email [email protected].

To find out more, read about the consultation and responses here.

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