Code of Conduct for Intertidal Shellfisheries

Fishing for cockles and mussels on the shore is a long-established activity.  In recent years the level of activity has increased and there has been increasing public concern.

By observing this simple code of conduct you can help to reduce disruption to others and protect future fisheries.

1. Treat the Foreshore with Respect

Much of the foreshore is privately owned. Many landowners tolerate access to and from shellfisheries. This does not include the storage of fishing equipment or catches on private land. Ensure that you:

  • Don’t damage gates, fences or signposts;
  • Don’t block access routes; and
  • Get the landowner’s agreement before storing any fishing equipment, vehicles or catches on private land.

2. Use Vehicles on the Shore Carefully

The use of tractors, ATVs/Quad Bikes and other vehicles on the shore can be disruptive to other beach users, local residents and landowners. Irresponsible vehicle use poses a risk to both protected features and the fishery. Ensure that you:

  • Keep all vehicles in good repair and fit exhaust silencers;
  • Keep noise to a minimum especially early in the morning and at weekends;
  • Avoid churning up mud at the top of the shore;
  • Don’t abandon vehicles on the shore.

3. Leave the Shore as you find it

Frequent reports are made about litter being left by fishermen. This includes food wrappers, cups, sacks used to transport shellfish, and shellfish dropped or discarded on the shore. Litter can pose a risk to protected features that many fisheries exist around. Ensure that you:

  • Clear up any litter left at the end of the day;
  • Don’t leave unwanted shellfish or sacks lying around; and
  • If storing gear or shellfish on the shore, make sure it doesn’t impede access.

4. Have Regard for Wildlife

Much of the seashore is protected by wildlife designations. It is a criminal offence to harm protected wildlife. To avoid possible prosecution:

  • Don’t disturb bird nests or eggs;
  • Avoid nature reserves;
  • Don’t take vehicles across areas of saltmarsh or seagrass; and
  • Contact the IFCA office for advice if in any doubt.

5. Fish Sustainably

IFCA byelaws protect the long-term future of shellfish stocks and must be complied with at all times. Complying with byelaws protects your own future livelihood. The minimum size for cockles and mussels are shown on the back of your permit card. You can help further by:

  • Scattering riddled shellfish evenly back on the bed they were removed from – don’t leave them in a heap;
  • Avoid harming or gathering juvenile shellfish – they are the future of the fishery; and
  • Ensure that vehicles used on the shore don’t harm the shellfish beds.

6. Observe Other Guidance and Advice

Other authorities may provide guidance relating to your activities. You should ensure that you are aware of:

  • Guidance issued by local authorities and landowners concerning access and other issues;
  • Guidance issued by the Health & Safety Executive and the Coastguard.