Dorset Fisheries

Arrow Fishery Management in Dorset

Under the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, all fishers must register their vessel with the UK Ship Register before they can be issued with a fishing vessel licence from the Marine Management Organisation.  This licence outlines the boat length, weight, engine power and details conditions which include target species, quota limitations and landing requirements.  To fish within the district and to sell their catch from the boat or to retailers, Dorset fishers must apply for a two year fishing permit from Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA).

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, Southern IFCA is responsible for the management of sea fisheries resources within the inshore waters of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, out to 6 nautical miles. Southern IFCA introduces byelaws for conservation and fishery management measures, ranging from fishery closure seasons, licensing and minimum landing sizes for commercial species.  The Southern IFCA Wheelhouse Card for minimum permissible landing sizes of commercial species can be downloaded here (PDF).  The IFCA’s Officers are responsible for enforcing these byelaws, together with National and European fisheries legislation.

A Southern IFCA byelaw does not allow boats over 12 metres to fish within 6 miles of the coast; this means that the seafood caught in Dorset is from small boats which would generally have less impact on the seabed and associated wildlife. The fishing is predominantly potting for crabs, lobsters and whelks, while other Dorset fisheries include rod and line fishing for sea bass and bream, netting for sole and plaice and diver-picked scallops. These fishing methods are more selective and less damaging to the environment than others.

Southern IFCA has also recently introduced byelaws to prevent damaging fishing techniques like scallop dredging and trawling from taking place within sensitive reef and seagrass habitats within Dorset’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), protecting in excess of 25% of the District’s coastal waters. Over the next two years, Southern IFCA will assess the impacts of all fishing activities within MPAs to ensure that these valuable species and habitats are protected from damage. 

Further information about Southern IFCA’s management measures and their work can be found on their website.


IFCA Southern Col

Spider Crab by Trevor Rees

Spider Crab by Trevor Rees

Scallop by Mike Markey

King scallop by Mike Markey


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