South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen (est. 1968) introduce our 'voluntary code', which aims to document our continuing commitment to sustainable fishing practices. We comply with the local, national and European laws which regulate our activities, including, but not limited to; fitting tracking devices on our vessels where directed, installing escape gaps on our parlour pots and soft eyed creels and by having our gear clearly marked with our vessel details. Our Inshore Potting Agreement area (IPA) was originally managed through voluntary measures, known as a 'Gentleman's Agreement'. Despite the geography of the IPA having been enshrined in law, we still operate a Gentleman's Agreement within our Association which enables us to work together, ensuring that fishing areas are respected and conflict is minimised.
This voluntary code was developed by pot fishermen and shows a little of how we go about securing a sustainable future in the IPA and inshore fishing grounds. We are passionate about the long term sustainability of our fishing areas and therefore, we invite other pot fishermen operating within the IPA and inshore areas to volunteer to comply with our code.
Our catches are cared for.
- we rely on the sale of a live product and we will care for them in line with the Seafish RFS handling code as a minimum.
We volunteer to v-notch any berried lobsters we may catch.
- because we recognise the importance of maintaining a breeding population, we will v-notch (mark) berried (egg carrying) females and return them to the sea so that they are preserved for a further breeding season. In order to further secure a breeding population, we may also use our discretion to v-notch other individuals.
We volunteer to share records of our crawfish catches with appropriate partners.
- we are prohibited from catching crawfish in some, but not all of our fishing areas and we already return berried crawfish to the sea. We know that voluntarily sharing our catch records beyond what is statutorily required and by choosing to return additional individuals to the sea we will positively impact the future management of the species. We extend this record sharing to more unusual catches too.
We conduct our activities in a way which minimises negative interactions with sensitive species/habitats.
- we will continue to act to minimise disturbance of sensitive marine wildlife by following best practice. We set our gear in line with the best available techniques that minimise the chance of mammal entanglement. - you can find the detail under 'SD&CS publications' here. We enjoy seeing birds, mammals and other species when we are at sea and are keen to ensure their safety.
Our fishing activity is conducted in a way which minimises environmental impacts.
- based on current available evidence, we consider our potting activities to have minimal impacts on sensitive species and habitats of the sea floor; in fact, we consider ourselves the guardians of the reef habitats on which we have fished for decades. Parts of the IPA are now protected within the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, with the majority of features having a 'maintain in favourable condition' objective; this reassures us that our actions are not adversely affecting our marine environment.
We volunteer to continue to work with the scientific and regulatory communities.
- because we are 'scientists at sea' and have a long history of working in partnership with researchers and regulators. We are keen to continue building and maintaining relationships which can help protect our fishery and the ecosystem in which we fish for future generations.
We bring litter home for proper disposal.
- because we understand that litter can pose a risk to both marine species and human health, we act within the law and do not throw rubbish overboard. In addition, #WeFishforLitter and are signed up to the Fishing for Litter scheme, ensuring that catches of free floating litter are brought ashore and properly disposed of.
We care for our gear.
- we do our utmost to recover gear that may have been towed away or moved by weather, as gear lost in this way costs us both money and time. We also recover any derelict gear we come across, bringing it ashore for proper disposal
Our Gentlemen’s Agreement will be upheld.
- Our fishermen will continue working together within our Association to secure and promote a sustainable fishery for generations to come.
- this code will be reviewed next in 2023.