D & S IFCA The Review of the Netting Permit Conditions

It is vital that stakeholders speak up and put across their views. There is a great deal of apathy across many sectors of society but one thing is certain those who do not speak will not be heard. The constant raising of the state of our rivers and seas across the media in regard to sewage pollution highlights how issues can be brought higher on the agenda.
As anglers across North Devon I feel sure we have seen a great benefit in the total ban on netting in estuaries. Those who believe this to be the case sould write to the D & S IFCA expressing their thoughts. See below statement from the D & S IFCA

The Review of the Netting Permit Conditions

Have Your Say

What is this about?

D&S IFCA is the body responsible to manage the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in this district which includes the areas of Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire County Councils; Bristol and Plymouth City Councils; North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils and all adjacent waters out to six nautical miles offshore or the median line with Wales.
D&S IFCA manages netting activity via the Netting Permit Byelaw. The Byelaw allows permits to be issued that contain conditions of use for those engaged in netting activity.
D&S IFCA must review the existing Netting Permit Conditions and has a duty to consult in writing with permit holders and such other stakeholders, organisations and persons as appear to the Authority to be representative of the interests likely to be substantially affected by the proposed future management options.
Your view is important and D&S IFCA is inviting you to be involved in the review and have your say. We are directly contacting everyone on our mailing list and giving you options on how to respond. All stakeholders can respond even if they don’t have a Netting Permit.
The review of the Netting Permit Conditions will be an extended process, including collating information and evidence, and decision making by D&S IFCA’s Byelaw and Permitting Sub-Committee (B&PSC). The review may or may not lead to changes to the existing Netting Permit Conditions.
  • The information gathering exercise starts on 19th May 2023
  • The information gathering exercise ends on 30th June 2023.

What is covered by the current Netting Permit Conditions?

The existing Netting Permit Conditions regulate netting within estuaries and at sea in the D&S IFCA District. The Netting Permit Conditions apply to both commercial fishers (Category One Permit) and recreational fishers (Category Two Permit) and the restrictions are tailored to these diffing sectors.
The Netting Permit Conditions and Annexes (charts) can be viewed in full by using the links below or visiting the D&S IFCA website.
Summary of the key current restrictions
  • No drift or fixed nets are authorised within any of the estuaries.
  • A series of coastal zones at sea that prohibit the use of fixed surface nets.
  • Minimum sizes for shellfish and bass.
  • Protection for berried crab, lobster and spiny lobster.
  • A limitation on the removal of parts of crabs (claws).
  • A bag limit for recreational fishers (2 lobsters and 3 crabs per calendar day).
  • Gear marking requirements (floating markers and flags for fixed nets).
  • A 25-metre maximum length for nets at sea operated by recreational fishers.
  • Net tags requirement for recreational fishers.
  • No removal of spiny lobster from defined Marine Protected Areas.
  • No netting authorised in an area surrounding Lundy Island.

How to have your say?

The consultation is not a questionnaire. This phase one consultation has no focussed or specific items, but it does give all stakeholders the opportunity to examine the present Netting Permit Conditions, see how netting is being managed by D&S IFCA and respond accordingly.

The following prompts may help you provide a response:

  1. What is your interest in the review?
  2. How did you find out about this review?
  3. What changes do you think should be made (if any) to the Permit Conditions and why should there be changes?
  4. What works well from your point of view and why?
  5. What doesn’t work so well and why?
  6. Please provide any supporting information or evidence to support your response.
  7. Are you on our mailing list and would you like to be added if not already?
Please respond by emailing or writing to us and please call if you need further information or to speak to an Officer.
Email: [email protected]
Telephone:  (Neil Townsend) – 07590 224011 or 01626 331589
Telephone IFCA Office: 01803 854648

Fisheries Management Plans

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As recreational anglers we have an increasing opportunity to have our say as stakeholders on the management of the waters that surround our country. I suggest all sea anglers should engage. I am a general member of the D & S IFCA so if you have views on this please feel free to message NDANs.

Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (D&SIFCA) Netting Permit Bylaw Review, Benefits and Implications

Andrew Burt Chairman of the National Mullet Club is urging anglers who have benefited from the netting ban in estuaries across the South West to express their thoughts regarding the significant benefits in extending the current bylaw that has undoubtedly protected stocks that are valuable to the recreational angling community who largely practice catch and release. 

Below is an explanation of the current situation with information that can be drwn upon when drafting a letter or email.

Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (D&SIFCA) Netting Permit Bylaw Review, Benefits and Implications

The D&S IFCA netting bylaw, D&S IFCA MCRS and Bylaws (see page 20 for netting), came into effect on the 1st March 2018. After 5 years it is now up for review and the process will start shortly.

D&S IFCA introduced this bylaw to protect salmonids, bass, grey mullet and other species that use these inshore areas for migration, as nurseries or for refuge. In doing so D&S IFCA recognised the importance of protecting these areas from commercial fishing and the benefits to recreational fishing and local communities. It is worth noting that many of these areas now fully protected are BNAs (Bass Nursery Areas) and are ecologically sensitive.

The bylaw as it stands only allows for seine netting for sandeels. This offers complete protection of all other species using the estuaries and harbours.

The Environment Agency pushed for a complete ban due to the poor ecological status of salmonids particularly Atlantic Salmon. The financial benefit to local communities of thriving salmon and sea trout is huge, not only getting local rods out fishing again but attracting anglers from other parts of the country to return.

The harbours and estuaries are home to all three native UK grey mullet species, particularly thick and thin lipped. These two species use these areas throughout the juvenile stages and then adulthood. It can take a thick lip mullet 10 – 12 years to reach maturity before they can breed for the first time. Often aggregating in large shoals and demonstrating a high site fidelity (often returning to the same places) they are particularly vulnerable to overfishing. During winter months they are known to aggregate in particularly large shoals prior to spawning; this makes them extremely vulnerable to commercial exploitation at the time when they are most in need of protection.

As previously mentioned, many of the areas protected are already BNAs, however this does not protect bass from unscrupulous commercial fishing or mortality when caught in nets set for other species and outside of months when bass nursery regulations apply, see link for current regulations,D&S IFCA Bass Nursery Areas and Regulations . Like grey mullet species they are spiky and easily caught in gill nets of any mesh fished tight or slack.

These inshore areas are important not only for the fish but for recreational angling as they offer good access as few anglers have boats and fishing from the open coast is often not possible or safe. Thriving inshore fisheries are of huge benefit recreationally and financially to local communities where anglers can fish for species such as grey mullet, flounder and gilthead bream that are of low importance to commercial fishing as well as bass. Further up the rivers anglers and communities benefit from increased salmonid stocks.

It should be noted that much of the recreational fishing is catch and release, it is estimated that over 95% of grey mullet caught recreationally are returned alive (who would want to eat a fish that has spent 10 – 20 years eating detritus including raw sewage anyway?). Some species more commonly retained such as bass (bass may not be retained if caught from a

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boat), impact is extremely low and recreational anglers are severely restricted as to how many bass may be retained.

To sum up, the bylaw has little impact upon commercial fishing but huge positive impacts upon the fish living inshore, the communities and the financial value generated for Devon and Somerset. We firmly believe that there has been a positive impact upon the quantity and size of species since the bylaw was instigated as well as an increase in range of some species such as gilthead bream. During previous consultation landing data from the commercial sector highlighted the low commercial importance of these areas. The protection of these nursery and refuge areas, social and economic benefits to recreational angling, coastal communities as well as those further inland surely highlight that this bylaw should not be changed to weaken it. If you fish in the D&S IFCA region, please take a few minutes to contact D&S IFCA using the details below about the positive impacts and future potential the bylaw offers.


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ADDRESS: Brixham Laboratory, Freshwater Quarry,
Brixham, Devon,

D&S IFCA Region

EMAIL: [email protected] PHONE: 01803 854648
OUT OF HOURS: 07740 175479