Opportunities for mitigation

Most of the physical effects of bait digging, and the effects on other infauna, may easily be reduced by infilling of holes during bait digging, which is not often observed on the shore. This will hasten the process of bait stock recovery, reduce mortality of non-target species, improve habitat recovery, and minimise conflict with many of the other shore users, This practice is recommended in all voluntary codes of conduct. Improved education (particularly through tackle shops and the angling press) and wardening of bait beds might help to improve application of this code. Reducing bird disturbance, however, is more difficult to achieve because it is caused by the presence of people on the shore. Different species are influenced to varying extents by bait digging, which causes less disturbance than some other activities (some species appear not to be affected at all by baitdigging). Where a problem does exist, this may only be mitigated by reducing the source of disturbance.

Zoning of bait digging activity could be required to manage bird disturbance and to protect particularly vulnerable habitats and communities such as Zostera or mussel beds, saltmarsh, and particularly fragile infaunal populations. Zonation will also help to avoid conflicts between bait digging and damage to coastal structures, vessels, and other shore users who are inconvenienced or endangered by the soft holes left even after backfilling of bait holes on the shore.

Bait farming now offers opportunities for the restocking of depleted bait beds using local brood stock for many target species, but has not yet been attempted (P. Olive and P. Cowin pers. comms).

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