Ban introduced to safeguard berried lobsters

A berried lobster.
A berried lobster.

An emergency by-law has been introduced, banning the landing of egg-bearing lobsters in North East waters.

The new piece of legislation, which came into force at the end of last month, has been implement by Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA).

The by-law aims to protect these types of lobsters, known as berried lobsters, to improve long-term sustainability of stocks and support the next generation of fishers.

NIFCA has introduced the emergency by-law following the announcement by Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) that landings of berried lobsters and crawfish are now banned in English waters.

NIFCA chief executive Mike Hardy said: “In the interests of fairness and to ensure that all fishers, both commercial and recreational, who fish for lobsters in the NIFCA district will be subject to the same prohibition, the Authority Officers and Members felt it to be essential to make this by-law.

“The by-law provides that nobody may fish for, remove, take, retain or land a berried lobster and nobody may store, carry or transport any berried lobster in the district before the first point of sale.

“Anyone who does take or remove a berried lobster from a fishery in the district must redeposit the lobster without injury immediately in the sea, as near as possible to the place from which it was taken.

“NIFCA has written in confirmation of the position to all holders of NIFCA permits who fish in the district, but would wish this important piece of legislation to be as widely known about as possible.”

A copy of IFCA by-laws can be obtained from www.nifca.gov.uk or from NIFCA’s office at Ennerdale Road, Blyth. Alternatively, call 01670 797676.

The NIFCA district extends from the River Tyne to the Scottish border out to six nautical miles and up to the normal tidal limit of estuaries.

Defra imposed the ban after a consultation that closed in May. It said that current stock assessments on European lobster and landing trends on crawfish in English waters, indicate that these stocks are being overfished.

Defra claimed that respondents to the consultation were ‘overwhelmingly in favour’ of proposals put forward and agreed stocks were being over-exploited. The department said that 155 responses were received to the consultation and 83 per cent – including three-quarters of commercial fishermen – supported the introduction of a ban.

However, some fishermen in England have voiced concern, saying it is a blanket measure that has been introduced too quickly and will cut shellfishermen’s incomes significantly.