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

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Trawling is a term used to describe a net or nets which are towed behind a vessel to catch a variety of fish species and sometimes shellfish species. 

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.  These 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 .


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

Maximum size and engine power for trawling boats in the district
The maximum overall length for a boat which is trawling in the district is 18.28 metres.
The maximum engine power for a boat which is trawling in the district is 221 kW (approximalty 300HP).
Trawling byelaw

Prohibitiion of the use of trawls in some area. 

All trawling is prohibited in some areas.

Trawling in Parts of District byelaw

Minimum sizes for some fish and shellfish species

A number of minimum fish and shellfish 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 which apply in Cornwall

Specified Fish Sizes byelaw
Crabs byelaw
Lobster byelaw
Crawfish byelaw
Spider Crab byelaw

Prohibition on the use of bottom towed gears,  including demersal otter trawl and beam trawl in some areas

In addition to the areas where all trawling is banned, there are some Marine Protected Areas which are fully or partially closed to bottom towed gear. 

Closed Areas (European Marine Sites) byelaw

Manacles Marine Conservation Zone byelaw

Whitsand and Looe Bay Marine Conservation Zone (Fishing Restrictions) Byelaw 2018

Restrictions on retaining crabs, lobsters and crawfish

There are a number of restrictions on retaining crabs, lobsters and crawfish. If you wish to keep these species you may need a Cornwall IFCA shellfish permit, and you will need to be aware of a number of other rules related to crustaceans. All of these can be found within the  Potting  section of this web site. 

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