Hand Gathering


Changes to European Legislation may have impacted on the information on this page.

Click here for more information.  

Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have around your fishing activities.

We are working hard to provide up to date information.


Hand gathering is a term used to define the collection of fish or shellfish by hand. This  may take place in the intertidal area or at sea by snorkelling and diving. Hand gathering is carried out recreationally and commercially, mainly for shellfish. 

Within the  Cornwall IFCA district  you must comply with three layers of legislation.


European fishery rules: These are applied to the EU member states and cover a wide range of subjects including minimum fish sizes, fishing methods and gear, fish quotas, logbooks and landing declarations, vessel monitoring systems etc. The rules can all be found within a publication known as the Blue Book which can be viewed on the Marine Management Organisation’s website.

National rules: In addition to EU regulations, there is national legislation applied to fisheries and fishing activities.  This can also be found in the  Blue Book

Cornwall IFCA byelaws:  Locally, there are further fishing restrictions applied under Byelaws made by Cornwall IFCA for managing fisheries within its district.  The byelaws which may apply to a particular fishing method are listed below.

Guidance and advice: If you would like any guidance or advice on the legislation which may affect fishing within the Cornwall IFCA district, please  contact us

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 arround 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.
National and European rules apply to the hand gathering  of bivalve species, covering subjects such as minimum shellfish sizes. These rules can be found in the  Blue Book  or you may prefer to contact your local MMO or IFCA office for advice. 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. Those diving commercially for shellfish must also abide by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules for commercial diving.

As well as the rules contained within the  Blue Book  the following Cornwall IFCA byelaws apply within the  Cornwall IFCA district .

Minimum sizes for fish  
 A number of minimum fish  sizes are introduced by Cornwall IFCA byelaws. These are in addition to those minimum sizes resulting from national and European legislation.
Full list of minimum sizes that apply in Cornwall.
Byelaws for the regulation of cockle harvesting in Cornish estuaries.
Specified Fish Sizes byelaw

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.

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