Most fishing methods can be used to fish recreationally but many European, national and local rules will apply.

National and European rules for fishing are published  in the Blue Book . However, it is very extensive and a lot of it will not relate to recreational fishing activities. You can view all of the Cornwall IFCA byelaws and voluntary codes of practice in the Byelaw section of this web site.

This page gives an overview of some of the rules governing recreational fishing within the Cornwall IFCA district . If you would like any further explanation or information please  contact us.

Can I sell the fish that I catch?
It is an offence to sell fish caught using a motor powered vessel unless that vessel has an appropriate fishing licence.

Whilst not technically recreational activities, you can sell fish that you have caught from unpowered vessels (less that 10m in total length) or when fishing from the shore.

Please note that you cannot sell any fish that are caught using a projectile, for example a spearfishing.

Under 2018 EU bass regulations you cannot retain or sell any bass which are caught from the shore.  

Minimum sizes for fish and shellfish

Click here to download a list of minimum sizes for all fish and shellfish species applied within the Cornwall IFCA District.

Keeping undersized fish to use as live bait
Undersized mackerel, horse mackerel, sardine and anchovies may be kept aboard a boat to use as bait if they are kept alive. Unused bait fish must be returned alive before landing.  

Restrictions of fishing for bass (for all recreational fishing including spearfishing)
Under European legislation recreational anglers, fishing from the shore or from any boat, must not keep any bass they catch in 2018. 

There are six Bass Nursery Areas within Cornwall where extra protection is provided to bass under national legislation. Within these areas it is prohibited to retain bass when fishing from a boat, or using sand eel as bait when fishing from a boat, at certain times of the year.  

Click here to find out more about the regulations regarding fishing for bass within the Cornwall IFCA district.

Protected species
There are some fish species which are under threat and have been given special legal protection. This may be in the form of restriction on targeting and/or retention.  

Below is a list of the most common protected species encountered by anglers.

Click here for a full list of marine species protected by European and national legislation.

Tope: Tope can be targeted by recreational sea anglers as a sport fish but cannot be landed and must be returned to the sea.

Angel Sharks and White Skate: These rare species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside act. It is an offence to kill or injure them. Any which are accidently caught, must be returned to the sea as quickly as possible.

Shad: Allis shad and twaite shad are both protected and must be returned if caught.

Goby: It is an offence to kill, injure, take possess or disturb giant goby  and Couch’s goby.

Blue fin tuna
The recent appearance of blue fin tuna around the coast of England and Wales had led to a lot of public interest in the rules applied to fishing for this species.  

Click here to view commercial and recreational blue fin tuna fishing guidance issued by the Marine Management Organisation

Crabs and lobsters
You can fish recreationally for crabs and lobsters in the Cornwall IFCA district as follows.

Fishing from a boat: If you are fishing from a boat you are not allowed to remove more than a maximum of five shellfish per day from the species lobster, crawfish, edible crab and spider crab, with no more than two of these five being from the lobster and crawfish species combined. This is because recreational vessels are not eligible for a Cornwall IFCA Shellfish Permit.

Fishing from the shore: If you are fishing for a crab or lobster from the shore whether by laying pots or by hand gathering, you are not limited on the number you can take. However, you must still abide by the minimum sizes and other conditions such as v-notched tails and berried (egg bearing) lobsters.

Click here to download our general information sheet which covers the rules for fishing for shellfish.  

As spear fishing cannot be undertaken for commercial fishing purposes, it is treated as a recreational activity. Those spearfishing must comply with the minimum sizes for fish and shellfish and with the bass regulations for recreational fishermen.

Bait gathering/digging.
Cornwall IFCA has no byelaws that restrict bait digging or gathering. There may be some areas where these activities are restricted, for example, by local harbour byelaws which restrict bait gathering around moorings. 

The Angling Trust recommends the following voluntary code of conduct for collecting bait.

Click here  to view the Angling Trust Voluntary Bait Collecting Code of Conduct.

Hand gathering mussels, oysters, cockles, clams and other bivalves.
The commercial gathering of bivalves for human consumption is subject to them being taken from a designated area where water quality is monitored and classified as suitable by the Food Standards Agency. For local information on harvesting areas and shellfish depuration please contact the Port Health Authority . Those collecting bivalves recreationally for their own consumption are not restricted by Port Health water quality closures but are strongly advised to contact Port Health for updates on any closed areas, where water quality may put human health at risk.

Restricting the gathering of some bivalve species in some areas.
Gathering mussels and oysters in a large part of the Fal is prohibited unless it is carried out under a licence issued by Cornwall IFCA. Fishing time, seasonal restrictions and specific minimum sizes for native oysters and mussels also apply.

Click here for more information on the Fal Fishery Order.

Voluntary code of practice.
In addition to the above rules there is a voluntary code of practice in place for the harvesting of winkles.
Cornwall IFCA Code of Practice for Winkle Fishing.

Recreational netting
If you wish to fish recreationally using a net in Cornwall you will need to abide by the same rules as those fishing commercially. You can find all of these rules described in the netting section.  Please note the rules regarding the use of nets in Cornwall can be complex. If you are new to netting in Cornwall we would strongly recommend you contact us to talk to one of our enforcement officers for advice and guidance.

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