Regulation of bait worm collection

The collection of other species other than ‘sea fish’ (worms are the most important in the UK, but echinoderms and tunicates could be included), including the public right to dig bait worms for personal use as an ancillary to the right to fish, is not directly governed by any statute. This right can, however, be regulated indirectly (although not extinguished completely) by a variety of Local Authority, public health, nature conservation, Fisheries and Harbour Authority byelaws (see Table 10). Such byelaw provisions may extend below the mean low water mark to all parts of the shore uncovered by the tide at any stage, but may take two to three years to be drafted, approved and implemented. The bylaw-making authority needs to demonstrate that the controls are expedient (Huggett 1995a) and that fishermen are still able to gather their bait from other nearby areas.

The collection of ‘non-sea fish’ other than for personal use for bait is not part of the public right to fish. It requires the permission of the landowner, which may (in theory) stop this activity on their foreshore. In practice, and depending on circumstances, such action may be impracticable.

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