Sea Angling for Conservation

Dorset Wildlife Trust sees many opportunities of working closely with the sea angling sector.  There are significant opportunities to influence and raise awareness and participation in sustainable sea angling and marine conservation amongst a major stakeholder group. 

In the National Angling Strategy, hands up for the environment is one of the six outcomes with a conservation gain.  It lists targets for regular angler surveys to establish baselines for reporting catches of more, bigger and healthier fish.

The conservation ethos of anglers is also reported in the National Angling Survey with "over 37% (10,387) of respondents took part in sea angling and 69% of those said that poor fish stocks was the ‘most important’ problem that needs to be addressed in sea angling – by some distance the highest response". 

Principles

  1. DWT want to see a return to healthy and productive marine environment and we are encouraged that more catches of bigger and healthier fish is a target in the National Angling Strategy; Fishing for Life. This is also an overriding aim of the Wildlife Trust's Vision for "Living Seas".  We concur with the Angling Trust that baselines must be established and anglers are in the best position to monitor these changes.
  2. DWT would like to enable more anglers to connect with nature.  Sea angling is a “wild experience” – putting people in close contact with the natural environment and wildlife.  Such experiences promote wellbeing and switch people on to caring about their environment
  3. Sea anglers are sentinels – they spend a lot of time by and on the sea and shore and can notice and report events and changes – good or bad.
  4. Like all human activities, sea angling has an impact.  That impact needs to be seen in the wider context of many other impacts and balanced against the benefits, but can be reduced by informed and responsible behaviour.  Promotion and adoption of codes of practice can improve public perception of sea-anglers. 
  5. Encouraging and supporting sustainable sea angling and engaging sea anglers in marine conservation activities in Dorset therefore has the potential to make a significant contribution to the management of the marine environment.
  6. DWT sees all stakeholders as responsible for conservation of the marine environment and welcomes a legislative framework that encompasses the recreational sea angling sector and takes account of its role and interests.
  7. The management of Marine Protected Areas and protected features is likely to mean some spatial and/or temporal restrictions on angling – such measures should be fair, proportionate and drawn up in consultation with anglers.
  8. Work with partners to promote sustainable size limits.

Key Areas of Collaboration

In discussions with sea angling bodies and Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA) several areas of potential collaboration have been identified and a project proposal between partners is currently being discussed:

  • Working with sea anglers to promote conservation measures on habitats and species at risk.
  • In collaboration with Angling Trust Wessex and Southern IFCA, develop and publish a joint code of conduct/good angling guide.
  • In collaboration with Angling Trust Wessex and Southern IFCA, develop a range of targeted literature and interpretation along the Dorset coast that encourages and promotes sustainable sea angling.
  • Engage sea anglers in surveying and monitoring wildlife in Dorset waters and along the Dorset coast.
  • Actively support Angling Trust conservation initiatives.
  • Liaise with the sea angling sector on input to Marine Protected Area management plans.

Sea angler JHatcher 250x179

Recreational sea angler © Julie Hatcher

Spawning male black seabream by Chris Wiltshire

Black sea bream © Chris Wiltshire

Tub gurnard by deepsea.co.uk

Tub gurnard © Chris Caines

SeaClean 250x179 by Julie Hatcher

SeaClean monofilament recycling bin © Julie Hatcher 

Collecting Unwanted Fishing Line

Anglers are helping marine life in Dorset by taking part in a project to collect unwanted fishing line. Special 'fishing line bins' have been installed at key locations around the county for anglers to discard their unwanted line. If enough is collected it can be recycled, possibly into new tackle boxes or new line.

Tacklebox Tips

Conservation of the marine environment is vital for the future of sea angling. Be an ambassador for sea-angling and follow the Sea Anglers Code.

  • Catch & release. Fill your plate, not your freezer.
  • Bag it & bin it. Take all litter away with you.
  • Fragile, handle with care. Put fish back to fight another day.
  • Go barbless! Do less damage to fish & fingers.
  • Get a net. To minimise stress, use a landing net from a boat, a drop net from a pier/quay.
  • Bait collecting. Take as little as you need, back-fill holes, replace rocks.
  • Big fish, small fish. Follow DWT Minimum Take Sizes and put very big fish back.
  • Consider others. Kill & gut fish out of view, keep your mark safe & tidy, be aware of those around you.

Handle with care

Top tips on releasing fish in a healthy condition to return and fight another day.

  • Use bronzed hooks, not stainless steel.
  • Treat fish carefully and release as quickly as possible.
  • Barbless hooks make releasing fish quicker and easier.
  • Avoid handling or use a wet cloth to prevent direct contact.
  • Weigh fish in a landing net and photograph in water. Do not land if you don’t have to.
  • Have equipment to hand before you land – to land, handle, photograph and unhook.
  • Carry a T Bar and learn how to use it.

Minimum Take Sizes

The table below shows the Dorset Wildlife Trust recommended Minimum Take Sizes. These ensure the specimens have had a chance to reproduce at least once.  We would encourage all sports anglers to consider not taking species that are “breeding stock” – specimens that are larger than average. Please return fish during spawning season and be aware of the legal restrictions concerning bass and tope.

Species
 

*denotes prohibitions

Spawning
Season

Minimum
Take Size (cm)

Full length nose to tail

Bass*

Feb-May

Prohibited from landing

Black Bream

Apr-May

30

Blonde Ray

Feb-Aug

92

Brill      

Mar-Jun

40

Bull huss shark

Spring-summer

58

Cod

Jan-Apr

50

Conger eel

N/A

75

Cuckoo ray

All year

60

Dogfish shark

Spring

69

Garfish

May/June

38

Grey gurnard

Apr-Aug

24

Ling

Apr-July

71

Mackerel

Mar-Jul

28

Mullet

Jan-Apr

50

Plaice

Jan-Mar

42

Pollack

Jan-Apr

50

Ray (if unable to ID)

Summer

92

Red gurnard

Apr-Jun

25

Small eyed ray

Summer

58

Smoothhound shark

Unknown

80

Spotted ray

Apr-Jul

55

Starry smoothhound shark

Summer

85

Thornback ray

Spring-Summer

85

Tope shark*

Prohibited from landing

185

Triggerfish

Unknown

30

Tub gurnard

May-July

22

Turbot

Apr-Aug

49

Undulate ray

Mar-Sep

75

Whiting

Feb-Jul

30

Wrasse*:

Ballan

Corkwing

Cuckoo

Goldsinney

Rockcook

 

April-August

April-September

May-July

April-September

May-August

 

28

14

24

9.5

9

* Recreational Bass Fishing Regulations:

* Tope:

  • catch and release only – landing is prohibited under the Tope (Prohibition of Fishing) Order 2008 

*Wrasse:

Cited from Southern IFCA Technical Advisory Committee papers 11th May 2017.

Maturity & spawning sizes and legislation information taken from www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/fishadviser; www.goodfishguide.org; www.sharktrust.org; www.fishbase.org; www.southern-ifca.gov.uk

 

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