(Above) Map of Bottom Towed Fishing Gear byelaw prohibited areas © Southern (IFCA)
(below) Pink Sea Fan on cod Ledge at Lyme Bay © Mike Markey
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) welcomes the announcement from Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA) regarding two new byelaws to protect high risk and sensitive marine habitats in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
These byelaws will now protect reef and seagrass habitats in European Marine Sites (EMS) from potentially damaging mobile fishing gear, such as dredges and trawls, and bait gathering practices. In Dorset, these EMS’s lie within the areas of: Lyme Bay; Studland to Portland; Chesil and The Fleet and Poole Harbour. Enforcement of these byelaws means that up to 25% of the total Southern IFCA district area will be permanently closed to high impact, damaging mobile fishing methods.
DWT Marine Conservation Officer, Emma Rance said, “These byelaws represent a great step forward in conservation. Rocky reef habitats support slow growing sponges and corals. Eelgrass meadows provide a nursery for juvenile commercial fish species and sea horses. Both habitats are vulnerable to irreversible damage when dredged or trawled. The byelaws will prevent any further habitat loss and in doing so, maintain the health, productivity and economic value of the marine environment for fishermen and conservationists alike.”
Many of the fishing methods used to catch the 40 different commercial species in Dorset are static in nature and have a low impact on seabed habitats. These methods include rod and line, pots, traps and gill nets. The low impact traditional fishery is recommended through Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Great Dorset Seafood campaign, which supports the sale of seafood caught using environmentally sensitive methods. Visit Great Dorset Seafood for more information.
Notes to Editor
The new byelaws include: Bottom Towed Fishing Gear and Prohibition of Gathering (sea fisheries resources) in Seagrass Beds.
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.