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Shore Based Fisheries

This activity includes crab tiling, bait digging, shellfish collection (including seed mussel) e.g. by hand (with or without digging apparatus), rake or through the use of 'tiles'. Also includes rod & line angling. The setting of pots and nets from the shore is also included. Vehicles or vessels may be used to access the shoreline.

Bait Digging

Bait collectors have worked on the Solent coastline for many years. Whether digging for lugworm and ragworm, or collecting crabs by hand, bait collectors and anglers have firsthand experience of the local estuaries and harbours. They operate in a complex natural environment. The worms, shellfish and other invertebrates which live in the sediment are an essential food supply for the birds, fish, crabs and shrimps living above them.

Natural England's conservation advice for the Solent Maritime SAC lists the pressure that could be exerted on intertidal habitats through shore based fishing activities like bait digging. These include trampling and erosion by people or vehicles, particularly on sensitive habitats like seagrass. Anchors can cause damage to the seabed surface and subsurface layers upon deployment/recovery and due to dragging or the vessel (including e.g. the propellor/wash) itself may cause abrasion if it comes into contact with the seabed in shallow water. Bycatch (i.e. discarded catch) is associated with almost all fishing activities. There are significant concerns over the impacts of discards on marine ecosystems, including changes in population abundance and demographics of affected species and altered species assemblages and food web structures. However, discards also provide important food resources for some scavenging species, including seabirds. The movement of vessels, vehicles and people, as well as that of gear, can create visual stimuli which can evoke a disturbance response in mobile species such as marine mammals, seabirds and coastal birds.

It is important for people to know what information to record when reporting bait digging as an issue, to help with this in 2018 the Sussex IFCA prepared a guidance note for the Solent's Relevant Authorities - Monitoring Shore Based Fishing Activities: Guidance for Solent Relevant Authorities.

SEMS has produced a collector's code for bait digging, the key messages are:

  1. Observe local byelaws and regulations which affect the use of the coast, or access to permanently and seasonally closed areas.
  2. Collect bait sustainably.
  3. Back-fill all holes for safety, and to maintain the intertidal habitat.
  4. Tell someone where you intend to dig.
  5. Avoid disturbing wildlife and marine heritage wherever possible.
  6. Be aware of local hazards and conditions.
  7. Treat the foreshore with respect.
  8. Replace all rocks and stones, and preserve the food chain by not digging in eel grass beds.
  9. Do not dig around moorings, slipways, and sea walls.
  10. Take all your litter home.