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Anglers tell Secretary of State: reject Sussex coastal netting byelaw


Monofilament netting

Fish Legal has asked for the Secretary of State to reject a new netting byelaw drafted by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Coastal Authority because it does not protect sea trout, is unenforceable and has been brought in without proper consultation.

The controversial new “Netting Permit Byelaw and Flexible Conditions” is intended to control fixed nets in sensitive nearshore coastal waters and was approved by the Sussex IFCA committee in January 2020.

Sea trout migrate along the coast and until now have been protected by a byelaw which stops nets being set in shallow nearshore waters. However, Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (B.A.S.S.). and Fish Legal say the new byelaw will allow nets to be set much closer to the beach, in shallow water, inevitably killing more sea trout.

The original proposal for a new byelaw put out to consultation in September 2019 included netting exclusion zones that would have been easy to understand and operate. But the new byelaw will be difficult to enforce.

Acting for its member B.A.S.S., Fish Legal has already warned of potential legal action after the Sussex IFCA voted to pass the byelaw in January 2020. It has now been forwarded to the Marine Management Orgabisation and Defra for approval.

Unlawful consultation

“Sussex IFCA consulted on one set of proposals in September 2019, but then made radical changes which were whisked through its approval process without giving the public the chance to see or comment on them," said David Curtis of B.A.S.S.

“Not only that, the new management measures are a backward step, reducing the area of nearshore waters in which sea trout are protected, allowing nets to be set close to the shore and raising enforceability concerns.”

Fish Legal and B.A.S.S. have therefore called on the Secretary of State to reject the byelaw and send it back to Sussex IFCA to reconsider – or alternatively put the byelaw to an inquiry.

Jamie Cook, CEO of Fish Legal and the Angling Trust, said: “At a time when we are leaving the European Union, we want stronger not weaker laws to protect fish stocks including effective byelaws. The byelaw is badly drafted and provides less protection than the existing byelaw for sea trout, so it needs to be rejected and sent back to the Sussex IFCA for redrafting."

Contact: Fish Legal - Eastwood House | 6 Rainbow Street | Leominster | HR6 8DQ | Tel: 01568 620447

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