There has been a flurry of reports of fishing boats openly netting within the Avon estuary recently and there was been much concern that nothing appeared to be happening despite the many phone calls.
I am assured that the netting was checked but at the time of the visits and within the byelaws that the officers were warranted to enforce, the vessels were netting within those byelaws.
However, as part of the‘Water of Dartmouth’, the Avon estuary is a Several Fishery owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, meaning that there is no public right to fish or collect any bait from its tidal waters (including foreshore). Whilst there has been no intention by the Duchy of Cornwall or the lessees of the estuary to be obstructive to fishermen involved in their pursuit for personal & non-commercial leisure purposes of responsible fishing and bait collection at present levels, they have been clear that they do not allow commercial fishing without licence. The enforcement officers were not able to enforce this at the time of the visit(s).
The Duchy are in talks with the relevant authorities and I have received this from Neal Gray of the Marine Management Organisation, “We encourage all members of the public to report any incidents of potential illegal fishing activity to us on 01752 228001. We endeavour to act on any information provided and are actively attempting to tackle the issue of illegal fishing by enforcing the appropriate legislation available to the MMO or through partner agencies whenever possible.
We are also looking at the possibility of writing to all netters administered from the Plymouth Fisheries Office and advising them of the Duchy restrictions on netting in the Avon and Kingsbridge/Salcombe areas. My colleague Will Sykes is looking into this and we hope to have something in place shortly (Will is not in the office this week).
I would like to thank you for your continued support in reporting incidents around the Avon estuary – your eyes and ears do help!
Estuaries Officer – South Devon AONB Unit
Follaton House, Plymouth Rd, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5NE
È07971 544010 (not 24/7)