Have your say on the proposed new hand gathering byelaw

21 March 2022

Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority are consulting on the proposed byelaw.

Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Sussex IFCA) is responsible for managing inshore marine fisheries within Sussex, from Chichester Harbour in West Sussex to Rye Bay in East Sussex. Marine fisheries include any commercial or recreational activities that remove marine species from their natural environment. This includes all fishing methods and the gathering of marine species from the shore by hand.

In accordance with its duties, the Authority is developing better management for the hand gathering of marine fauna and flora from within the district. A new Hand Gathering Byelaw is proposed, and a public consultation on the proposed new regulation provides an opportunity for anyone to be involved and have their say.

What is hand gathering?

Hand gathering within Sussex’s intertidal areas is extensive and takes many forms, including: the gathering of mollusc shellfish (such as bivalve cockles and clams), crustacea (mainly crabs and occasionally lobster), marine worms (lug and ragworm species) and some plants (seaweeds and glassworts).

Species of animals and plants may be gathered for different reasons, but the most common are either for human consumption or for use as sea angling bait. Sometimes seaweed is gathered for use in gardening as a compost and a natural fertiliser.

Methods of hand gathering vary depending upon the species being collected. Often some form of hand implement is used such as a rake, fork or manual bait pump. Sometimes objects are laid on the seabed to attract a species, this is common with the collection of crabs for fishing bait. Typically, most species are hidden and require some form of hand tool to help find and remove them.

people looking at shoreline habitats

Protecting the marine environment

The Sussex IFCA understands that hand gathering takes place and wants to ensure that both legitimate and sustainable activity can continue into the future. It is important that these activities are managed without causing excessive impact on the environment and damage to sensitive habitats and species. This is particularly important in terms of protecting designated features within Marine Protected Areas or Sites and designated by government for their conservation importance. In Sussex this includes a number of areas such as parts of tidal rivers and natural harbours. In The Living Coast area this includes areas such as the Adur Estuary and the Beachy Head West Marine Conservation Zone.

Sussex IFCA are now consulting on the proposed new byelaw which is aiming to establish new management for hand gathering.  The consultation is running until 16 April 2022.

Visit the Sussex IFCA Consultation webpages to find out more and participate in the consultation.

By The Living Coast

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