Northumberland dredging ban decision deferred after objections from fishermen

A decision on a proposed ban on dredging off the Northumberland coast has been delayed after late objections from fishermen.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 29th October 2020, 2:10 pm
Members of Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) were due to make a new byelaw at their quarterly meeting
Members of Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) were due to make a new byelaw at their quarterly meeting

Members of Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) were due to make a new byelaw at their quarterly meeting on Monday, October 26.

This proposed new regulation would prohibit the use of dredges for fishing within the district, from the River Tyne to the Scottish Border and six nautical miles out to sea.

However, members heard that three additional detailed representations had been made in the week or so leading up to the meeting, which meant officers had not had time to consider them properly.

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NIFCA’s chief executive Mike Hardy recommended deferring the decision, given it would be unlikely to cause ‘any fisheries or environmental detriment as there is no dredging currently taking place in the district and isn’t likely in the near future’.

He added: “Although these objections have come in late, which isn’t ideal, there is no strict legal requirement as to when any objections have to be made in this situation, it was a deadline of our choosing.

“If we go ahead and make the byelaw over the head of those objections, without properly considering them, not only would it lead to possibly wasted cost, but also it wouldn’t meet with approval from the MMO (Marine Management Organisation) and Defra, or probably the wider public looking at this reasonably.”

The authority’s chairman, Les Weller, said: “We have a duty of care, it is public money we’re using here, we also have a duty to these three objections and there is no time limit.”

Members agreed and it means that the matter will return to the next meeting in January 2021.

Updated byelaws in relation to trawling and dredging have been under discussion for some time, with a delay for further consideration agreed as far back as January 2019.

At the previous quarterly meeting in July, members voted unanimously to confirm the making of the new byelaw on trawling, which is awaiting approval from the Secretary of State.

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