Seeking views on Emergency Byelaw for Whelk Management

Eastern IFCA will be introducing management measures for whelk in order to help maintain a sustainable fishery, via an emergency byelaw. This follows a sharp increase in fishing effort combined with a reduction in catch per vessel, which is an indication that fishing effort is too high. We have completed a draft impact assessment to reflect the rationale of the measures and the potential impacts to fishers.

front cover whelk catch inspection

Whilst emergency byelaws do not require a formal consultation period, Authority officers have consulted some fishers and processors and their views have been taken into account. Before introducing the measures there is a brief opportunity for fishers to comment upon the proposed measures, by filling out a consultation response form and either e-mailing it to or returning it to the Eastern IFCA office. Completed forms should reach Eastern IFCA by 0900hrs on Tuesday 7th April 2015.

The aims of the measures are:

  • To prevent further significant increases in effort
  • To reduce the removal of pre-spawning whelk
  • To gather information to gauge how much effort the whelk fisheries can sustain in the long term.

The emergency measures are intended to achieve the best balance between protecting stocks and accounting for the varying needs of fishers. The measures will be refined over the next 12 months and stakeholders, including fishermen, will be consulted.

The new measures mean that it will be necessary to have a permit to remove whelk from the fishery. Three categories of permit will be available:

  • Category One Permit – allows fishers to target whelk on a commercial scale. These will be granted at a cost of £1 per pot (up to 500)
  • Category Two Permit (by-catch) –allows commercial fishers who do not target whelk to land whelk caught as by-catch. These will be granted at a cost of £100
  • Category Three Permit (recreational) – allows recreational fishers to target whelk on a small scale for personal consumption. These will be granted at a cost of £5 per pot (up to 5 pots).

Conditions will be attached to each permit, which must be adhered to. The key emergency measures are as follows:

  • Pot limitations: The maximum number of pots a fisher may deploy are 500 for a Category One permit and 5 for a Category Three Permit (recreational)
  • Pot tags: All whelk pots must be tagged with a tag provided by the Authority
  • Escape holes: All whelk pots must have two escape holes of 24mm in diameter
  • Minimum landing size: This is increased to 55mm in length
  • Riddle/sorting gear: All whelk must be sorted for size using a riddle with a minimum bar spacing of 24mm and all whelk rejected in this way must be returned to the sea immediately
  • Catch returns: permit holders must submit completed catch returns forms (which will be supplied by Eastern IFCA) on the 5th day of each month
  • Gear marking: Each string or shank of pots must be marked by a floating dhan at the North or Western end the fleet to indicate its general direction and a high visibility buoy at the other end. No lights or radar reflector will be required.

The draft byelaw can be found here. The informal consultation form can be found here The draft impact assessment can be found here.

design sprint agency