Following consultation, the MMO has outlined a series of measures to be introduced relating to the Lyme Bay sole fishery.
The initial consultation with stakeholders was launched in reponse to reports of increased fishing for sole in Lyme Bay, along with competition for fishing space, gear conflicts and a reduction in the volume of sole catches and the size of the fish. The consultation sought stakeholders’ views on the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the sole fishery in the area.
The outcome is that the MMO has pledged to create a new vessel licence condition requiring enhanced visibility and identification of passive gear, and to publish a form for reporting lost and found gear that can be used without the need for names in order to improve data on the frequency of these events.
A sole catch limit of 200kg for non-sector vessels fishing with scallop dredges in ICES area 7e is to be introduced and the MMO has stated that it will hold discussions with Producer Organisations about ways members can reduce sole bycatch when fishing with dredges.
It also plans to support additional research to understand the potential need, benefits and risks of changes to minimum landing sizes or gear configurations, and to facilitate a meeting in early 2024 for representative industry members to discuss the potential for separating areas of Lyme Bay for use by different fishing methods at different times of the year.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with us on the options for the Lyme Bay sole fishery,’ said MMO Head of Sustainable Fisheries Richard Hoskin.
‘We have collated and considered all the responses and have come to decisions which we think will best meet the needs of stakeholders, balancing the competing perspectives and requirements expressed in the consultation. Our aim has been to support an environmentally and economically sustainable sole fishery in and around Lyme Bay – and we now have a set of further steps for research and management measures to continue to improve the benefits of the fishery over the next couple of years.’