Wash Fishery Order 1992 (WFO) Replacement: access policies consultation – Frequently Asked Questions

We are talking to Wash fishing stakeholders about how we will manage access to mussel and cockle fisheries in The Wash.  This consultation closes on Monday 11th October 2021 (more information here).

This page is intended to provide information on some frequently asked questions which have come up as part of our discussions.  We will update this page throughout the consultation.  Please contact us if you think there is other information which would be helpful to include on this page.

This was last updated on: 21/09/2021


1.Why are Eastern IFCA undertaking an economic assessment?

At the 37th Eastern IFCA meeting, members agreed to undertake an economic assessment of the hand-work cockle fishery to investigate its economic sustainability. This was in response to concerns from a minority of Wash fishermen that the hand-work fishery was less economically viable than a dredge fishery.


It was also identified that an economic assessment would be beneficial to inform our work to replace the WFO.  In particular, it will provide information on the resilience of the industry to the annual changes in the fishery (stock size, total allowable catch etc.), the different business models which operate in The Wash, the interdependencies with other fisheries such as shrimp and whelk and an indication of an appropriate level of access.


This assessment will provide information that can be taken into account, along with the views of industry and other environmental and sustainability considerations.  It will not dictate the number of permits which will be issued but it may help to inform that decision.


The Wash fishing industry is very complex, and we want to ensure that we have the best information available to inform our decisions. This includes considering the economic impacts of our management measures and seeking to reduce the likelihood of there being unintended consequences.


The participation of Wash fishermen will improve the quality of the economic assessment and they will be contacted about this shortly.


Please note that the information you provide will be held in confidence by the company undertaking the assessment and that Eastern IFCA will only be provided with outputs and summary information that is not attributable to individuals


2.What are Eastern IFCA going to manage using a ‘Several Order’ in The Wash?

The WFO provides Eastern IFCA with the ability to manage the wild stocks in The Wash (the ‘regulated fishery’) and the private aquaculture in The Wash (the ‘several fishery’).  Locally, the private aquaculture in The Wash is known as ‘the lays’ because typically, fishermen re-lay juvenile mussels (and some other shellfish) onto the seabed to allow them to grow.


We intend to use a byelaw to replace management of the regulated fishery for wild cockles and mussels after the Wash Fishery Order expires.  This is the best tool available to manage these fisheries.


Private aquaculture in The Wash (the lays) cannot be managed using a byelaw in the same way as under a Several Order.  Eastern IFCA is applying for a Several Order to replace this element of the WFO.  This type of Order is called a ‘Several Order’ because the areas managed in this way are ‘severed’ from the public fishery.


We will be contacting Wash Fishermen soon about the draft Fisheries Management Plan for the Several Order which sets out how we will manage the lays.  We would like your feedback on this to develop it further.


3.Why do Eastern IFCA want to talk to individual fishermen / small groups about the draft policies?

The Wash fishing industry is very complex.  There are several different types of business model operating in The Wash all with different needs.  To ensure that our management of access is effective, we need to understand how the draft policies will work for these different business models.


Often, and understandably, people do not want to discuss the intricacies of their business models in the presence of other fishermen.  But to fully understand the impacts of our draft policies and develop them further, it is important we can have these conversations with fishermen.


4.When will Eastern IFCA make a final decision on the policies?

So as to ensure that decisions on the policies are fully informed, we are seeking industry feedback before a final decision is made.


The documents sent to fishermen are a summary of the draft policy effects.  The final wording of the policies will be developed following discussions with industry and their representatives.  It is important that we have dialogue with industry about what we want to achieve, and how it will affect them before we finalise the detailed wording so we that can take into account the complexities of the Wash fishing industry.



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