Wash Fishery Order (WFO) 1992 Regulations – Formal Consultation

Review of WFO Regulations

The Authority agreed to make new WFO Regulations, pending a formal consultation with stakeholders (including Licence holders and skippers).  The review and proposed measures aim to achieve the following:

  • Implement a requirement to have an electronic monitoring device installed and functioning on all vessels within the fishery.
  • Reflect modern legislative standards and provide more clarity as to the requirements of the Regulations;
  • Implement new Regulations to reflect ‘lessons learnt’ from previous fisheries, including the recent implementation of new Licence Conditions;

Before the Regulations can come into effect, Eastern IFCA must seek the approval of the Secretary of State.  This includes presenting feedback from the stakeholders who will be impacted.

This information is intended to provide a summary of the key changes and impacts on the industry.

How do I take part in the consultation?

Please review this document which sets out the key changes between the current Regulations and the proposed Regulations and draft Impact Assessment which can be found at the links below.  Hard copies can be obtained from the King’s Lynn office on request.

Please provide feedback on the proposed Regulations including the potential for impacts on you, in writing to the Eastern IFCA Offices (6 North Lynn Business Village, Bergen Way, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 2JG) by Tuesday 10th April 2018. 

What are the key changes in the Regulations?

The proposed new Regulations reflect primarily administrative changes, changes in format and wording and recently implemented Licence Conditions.  A summary of the ‘key changes’ is provided below:

Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS)

As you may be aware, the Government will be consulting shortly on the introduction of iVMS on all licensed fishing vessels under 12m in length.  Eastern IFCA will be introducing iVMS in The Wash under WFO regulations and as a pathfinder for a national project that will provide the opportunity to have an iVMS device fitted to licensed fishing vessels free of charge under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.  Vessels which already have a VMS+ unit will not require an iVMS unit but will have to increase the reporting rate of their units.  A summary of the new Regulation is set out below.

  • The proposed Regulations require all vessels to have an electronic monitoring device installed on the vessel which must be one of the type approved iVMS devices or a VMS+ device;
  • Licenced vessels will be prohibited from fishing for any of the prescribed species (i.e. cockles, mussels etc.), leaving a port within the WFO area or entering the WFO without a functioning device;
  • The devices will have to transmit the required information (for example location, speed, direction etc.) every ten minutes.


Bottom towed gear restrictions

  • Restrictions were previously set out in a ‘Schedule’ to a Regulation and were not flexible.
  • The new Regulations set out some of the requirements (e.g. width of dredge heads) in the face of the Regulation to provide additional clarity.
  • They also set out that Eastern IFCA can make additional gear requirements in-line with the needs of each fishery. Such requirements will have to be met to gain ‘approval’ to use the gear.  This replicates the system currently in place but is now set out in the Regulations.

Catch restrictions

  • The catch restrictions for Mussels and cockles have been separated for clarity;
  • The proposed daily catch restriction relating to cockles during a hand work fishery is ‘flexible’ and will be set in line with the Cockle Management Plan (under development);
  • The proposed Regulation also sets out an ‘allowance’ for ‘taking’ more than the daily quota for the purpose of riddling or sorting catch. Whilst this doesn’t reflect a change in practice, it is set out in the proposed Regulations for clarity.

Use of tenders

  • This was previously set out in the Schedule to a regulation but is now included as a stand-alone Regulation for clarity;
  • The requirements on the use of a tender have not changed.

Sorting of catch

  • This is a new requirement which was not previously reflected as a regulation or a licence condition;
  • Any catch rejected through use of sorting equipment (including riddles) must be returned to the sands as close to where it came from as is possible and must be spread evenly and thinly over the sands;
  • This does not require fishers to sort catch but sets out how the rejected shellfish and shell must be treated if sorting does occur.


Licence conditions

  • Several licence conditions have been in place since the 2016 cockle fishery, which are now proposed as new Regulations;
  • Regulations carry a higher ‘penalty level’ than Licence Conditions (i.e. the base level of an associated Financial Administrative Penalty (FAP) would be £500 for non-compliance rather than £250);
  • These new Regulations are as follows;
    • Transhipping prohibition;
    • Weekly return forms;
    • Requirement to land;
    • Dual fishing prohibition;
    • Standard bags; and
    • Prop washing – this also requires that fishers do not make more than one ‘ring’ during ‘prop-washing’ which is an additional restriction.

What are the potential Impacts on fishers?

Eastern IFCA has produced a draft Impact Assessment (link above) which indicates that impacts on the fishing industry would be limited.  This is a reflection of the changes being primarily administrative in nature and mostly reflecting restrictions which are already in place.

The requirement to have functioning electronic monitoring devices will be mitigated by Eastern IFCA providing funding for the purchase of the units and the installation.  There is a cost associated with the ‘air time’ (i.e. the operation) of the unit and this is included in the impact assessment.  The cost of ‘air time’ is an estimate but is considered to be relatively low.

The requirement relating to the sorting of catch is not thought to have any financial impacts on fishers.  This is because it reflects the requirements of the current Code of Conduct and reflects the method currently employed by fishers.

The additional requirement in relation to ‘prop-washing’ that fishers must not make more than one ‘ring’ is also thought to have a limited impact as this is a requirement of the Code of Conduct and reflects the method currently employed by fishers.

It is considered of benefit to the industry that the measures are set out more clearly (for example not within schedules but on the face of the Regulation).

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