South America Seed Mussel Fishery (Morecambe Bay)

NWIFCA’s Technical Science and Byelaws Sub-Committee held an Extraordinary meeting on 4th August to discuss management of the mussels at South America. They heard representation from both the hand-gathering and the dredge harvest sectors, and the recommendation from the Senior Scientist. TSB approved the following:

The seed mussel fishery be allowed, subject to HRA, authorisation for both dredge and hand-gathering for a period of one month from the date of authorisation. The division of the seed mussel fishery shall be equal, with the hand-gatherers operating on the western side. Further management decisions will be considered after subsequent review.

Due to the tight timeframe Natural England have not yet been able to respond to the HRA submitted to them on Wednesday 12th August. NWIFCA is confident that the fishery is compliant with the Habitats Regulations and is therefore giving notice that it intends to issue the authorisation to NWIFCA Byelaw 3 permit holders for hand-gathering of seed mussel in the area illustrated in the authorisation from Thursday 20th August, and to issue permits to dredge seed mussel in the area illustrated in the permit conditions from the evening tide of Monday 24th August. Should Natural England advice raise serious and concrete concerns that the fishery poses a risk to the conservation features of the EMS, the authorisation and permits will be withdrawn until those concerns can be mitigated.

One month following the start of the fishery this management will be reviewed by TSB.