June 2017: Public consultation on changes to the regulations under the Fal Fishery Order.

Regulations made under the Fal Fishery Order 2016
Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is proposing changes to the Regulations made under the Fal Fishery Order 2016.

Updating the Regulations would provide that:
  • Licenced Fal fishermen operating in the Fal Fishery Area may take Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas),  small scallop species (Chlamys spp.) and any  species of mussel (Mytilus spp.) from the Fal Fishery Area using the traditional fishing methods and vessels for taking native oysters and mussels; and
  • The Authority may authorise fisheries management and development activities, including scientific work, within the Fal Fishery Area.  This may be for itself or for other organisations and individuals, subject to an appropriate assessment of the activity.
Please click here to download the proposed new regulations.

Fal fishermen have dredged and hand-gathered native oysters and mussels for many decades, but in recent years have found that the numbers of Pacific oysters and small scallop species, locally known as queenies, are such that they have potential to be of significant value as commercial catches.  As the small scallop species exist on grounds which also hold native oysters, they are often dredged up alongside the oysters, with no need to adapt the dredging operation, which is conducted solely by the traditional vessels that may only use sail or oars for propulsion when dredging.
The current Regulations were designed around the exploitation of oysters and mussels and have restricted bycatches of other shellfish species to 20% of the landed catch.  This prevents full exploitation of Pacific oysters and small scallop species; species which left alone could impact on native oyster and mussel populations.  Greater catches of Pacific oysters and queenies would assist the overall commercial fishing viability for Fal fishermen.  Using traditional fishing methods, it is considered that increases in the catches of such shellfish would have little effect on other flora and fauna within the Fal, including designated features listed under the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation.
In respect of mussels, the current Regulations are specific to fishing for Mytilus edulis.  However, other mussel species are also present, most notably Mytilus galloprovincialis, as well as hybrids, which are very difficult for fishermen to separate out from catches.  The Authority believes it would be better to manage all mussel species uniformly, removing an identification problem and a subsequent enforcement issue.
The ability for the Authority to authorise management and development activities is an important measure to reduce bureaucracy and the time taken for decision making.  This would be consistent with the process which is currently undertaken by the Authority for dispensations against Cornwall IFCA byelaws. The current position under the Fal Fishery Order 2016 requires a decision by the Secretary of State.  There is no identified need for this involvement in a local matter, where the Authority is the holder of relevant fishery information which is needed to make an appropriate decision. 
On 17 March 2017, Cornwall IFCA considered the proposed changes to the Regulations and recommended that they were made.  

On 13 June 2017, the Fal Fisheries Management Committee considered the proposed changes to the Regulations and decided that they were appropriate to more recently identified fishing and fishery management needs. 
Notification of interested parties
This news item, and a letter whcih has been sent to interested parties serves as formal notification of Cornwall IFCA’s intention to make Regulations, as set out in the enclosed document entitled “Regulations under the Fal Fishery Order 2016”.
If you wish to make a representation to Cornwall IFCA about any matter within the proposed Regulations, please write or email the Authority by 19 July 2017.  Any representation made to the Authority will be taken into account before the Authority seeks consent of the Secretary of State for new Regulations under the Fal Fishery Order 2016.
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