Shellfish Conservation: Finding a way forward

12th November 2008 in Shellfish

A recent meeting of the NFFO Shellfish Committee considered the way forward on crab and lobster conservation.

Defra has indicated that subject to consultation, it favours a pot limitation scheme that would cap effort at present levels and has stressed that there is a window of opportunity to introduce significant conservation measures, relatively painlessly, whilst crab and lobster stocks are reasonably healthy.

The views expressed at the meeting reflected the differences around the coast, which in turn often reflect material differences in the fishery. Whilst in Northumberland a pot limitation scheme is seen as having its attractions over an increased minimum landing size, on the Yorkshire Coast the problems of enforcing a pot limitation scheme are underlined and a strong case for an increased minimum landing size as an alternative is made. Cornwall, Devon and the Welsh coasts likewise have their distinctive perspectives. This diversity of views, which all reflect different and valid approaches to shellfish conservation, is why NFFO shellfish policy has always stressed a strong regional dimension.

The Committee suggested that progress could be made through a national shellfish conference in which active shell-fishermen could express their views on the way forward at European, national and regional levels, and where it would be possible to discuss the options with fishermen and shellfish experts from countries with successful shellfish management regime.

It was agreed that whatever approach is finally adopted, the views of those who go to sea to catch shellfish must be centre-stage.