Fishermen set voluntary catch limit

A new voluntary catch limit set by fishermen in Lyme Bay is thought to be the first example of self-regulation by the British fishing community

The joint agreement between fisherman, scientists and conservationists aims to provide long-term preservation of the UK’s largest inshore marine protected area in order to protect fish stocks and sustain the local fishing community.

Until now up to 1,000 pots have been used in the area, which borders Devon and Dorset on the south coast, by some larger fishing vessels. The restrictions now mean that any one boat will be able to use a maximum of 250 crab and lobster pots, 500 whelk pots and individual nets of 600 metres. The partnership will also help fund a study by the University of Plymouth to see how much fishing the bay’s reefs can sustain and will use the results to attempt to adjust policy accordingly.

Alex Jones, who represents a group of younger fishermen from Lyme Regis, said: “The future has to be with fishermen and scientists working together towards a common goal of sustainability, protecting areas but still keeping the fishing communities going.”

Organisers hope the agreement will set a standard for managing the sea for the benefit of communities and nature and that it will be replicated in other locations.