TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF TWO SW ENGLAND MUSSEL BEDS
Temporary closure two SW England mussel beds. A temporary closure of public mussel beds in both the Teign and Exe Estuary in south west England has been implemented. Defined areas in both estuaries have been closed from 1st May 2019.
A statement on the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation website says: “The stocks of Mussel in both the Teign and Exe Estuary are severely depleted. Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (D&S IFCA) has the legal duty to manage the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in the District. This is set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and D&S IFCA has used the Temporary Closure of Shellfish Beds Byelaw to close specified areas. The closure applies to both commercial and recreational fishers and is for mussel, not other shellfish such as oysters, clams and periwinkles.
“The Exe Estuary is a designated European Marine Site – a Special Protection Area (SPA) designated to protect populations of overwintering birds. Within the Exe, commercial hand gathering of mussels is limited to the classified areas which are part of the private fishery leased from the Earl of Devon. Recreational gathering of mussels has taken place on the public unclassified beds although the stock of mussels in these areas has deteriorated dramatically, possibly due to several factors.
“The Teign Estuary is not covered by any statutory designations, and therefore has not been surveyed as frequently as the Exe Estuary. A baseline mussel stock assessment was carried out in 2012, with the survey repeated in 2018. During this time the estuary has lost almost all its mussel stock.
“After considering the evidence presented it was concluded that a temporary closure of specific areas for a period of 18 to 24 months may produce a positive effect and allow the sites to recover. Efforts are being taken to re-stock areas within the Exe Estuary and a temporary closure will help to protect transplanted mussel. Monitoring of the sites will be conducted.
“D&S IFCA is currently reviewing the management of a range of hand working type of fishing activities that includes hand gathering methods, bait digging and the use of crab tiles. All the legacy byelaws need to be examined and the B&PSC are scheduled to discuss options for management in November 2019.”