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New Sea-Fisheries Bye Laws for Crab and Lobster 13 August 2003

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon John Rimington, MHK, has made a set of sea-fisheries bye-laws. They deal with fishing for crab and lobster.

The Sea-Fisheries (Lobster and Crab, Etc. Licensing) Bye-laws 2003 have now come into operation and replace the existing bye-laws.

It is only a short time since new bye-laws was introduced. The Minister made an earlier set of bye-laws which came into operation on the 1st June 2003. These were in respect of the three-mile area.

The present bye-laws incorporate all the measures which apply to the three-mile area. However, they now extend a licensing regime for crab and lobster throughout the territorial sea. In addition, a maximum of 500 pots is permitted in the whole territorial sea, of which no more than 300 may be used within the three-mile area.

The Department had been proposing a licensing regime for lobster and crab fisheries in the 3 - 12 mile area for some time. The concurrence of the UK Secretary of State was necessary. Despite correspondence on the details, concurrence had not been received.

The Minister wished to promote the new measures incorporated in the proposals as soon as possible, so proceeded with the bye-laws for the three-mile area.

Since the time that those bye-laws came into operation on the 1st June, the Department has received concurrence to its proposed bye-laws for the 3 - 12 mile area. This was one of the first items before the UK Secretary of State to the newly-created Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The Sea-Fisheries (Lobster and Crab Etc. Licensing) Bye-laws 2003 (SD 604/03) came into operation on Monday the 4th August 2003 and apply throughout the territorial sea.

The Bye-laws replace the Sea-Fisheries (Lobster and Crab Etc. Licensing) (Three-Mile Area) Bye-laws 2003 (SD 291/03) which came into operation on the 1st June 2003. Section 2(2A)(c) of the Sea-Fisheries Act 1971 (as amended by the Territorial Sea (Consequential Provisions) Act 1991) requires the concurrence of the UK Secretary of State to the 3 - 12 nautical mile area of the territorial sea.

The Bye-laws replace the Sea-Fisheries (Lobster and Crab Etc. Licensing) (Three-Mile Area) Bye-laws 2003 but apply similar provisions to the whole of the territorial sea. Their provisions deal with a licensing regime for fishing crab, crawfish and lobster and the use of pots and stock cages for that purpose.

The Bye-laws -

* restrict fishing for lobster, crab and crawfish except under authority of a licence granted by the Department (bye-law 3);

* provide conditions of licence (bye-law 4) which -

1) restrict the number of pots which may be used by a vessel other than a registered and licensed fishing vessel and by a registered and licensed fishing vessel both within the three-mile area and throughout the territorial sea; and

2) prohibit the lifting, etc of pots other than those in respect of which a licence is held by the person lifting them, subject to a proviso that incapacitated persons may apply to the Department for prior written permission for another person to lift their pots only for the purpose of bringing them ashore;

* restrict the use of a stock cage to those people who hold a licence in respect of a registered and licensed fishing vessel granted under bye-law 3 (bye-law 5);

* require the holder of a licence granted under bye-law 3 in respect of a registered and licensed fishing vessel to keep and preserve weekly records concerning the vessel, gear and fishing operations, failure to comply with which leading to the licence immediately becoming invalid (bye-law 6);

* require all pots, stock cages, floats and markers to be clearly and indelibly marked with the number of the licence granted under bye-law 3 (bye-law 7);

* set penalties for offences against the bye-laws (bye-law ;

* revoke the Sea-Fisheries (Lobster and Crab Etc. Licensing) (Three-Mile Area) Bye-laws 2003, which are replaced by these Bye-laws (bye-law 9); and

* provide transitional arrangements with regard to "saved licences" under the provisions of bye-law 9(2) which allow a person currently licensed to fish by more than the maximum number of 300 pots within the three-mile area to continue to do so, subject to certain conditions (bye-law 10).

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