Legislation and Byelaw-making powers

The Department of Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR 1998 a) provides a guide to the implementation of the Habitats Directive in European Marine Sites (SACs and SPAs) in Great Britain. This outlines the important powers, duties and functions of competent and relevant authorities under the Habitats Regulations. Competent authorities include any statutory body or public office exercising legislative powers on land or at sea. Relevant authorities are those of the competent authorities with local powers or functions that have, or could have, an impact on the marine area within or adjacent to a European marine site, and powers to establish a management scheme for such a site. The table below lists the competent authorities exercising legislative powers in the intertidal zone, and the restrictions on their powers with regards to the regulation of bait collection.

Competent authorities, regulatory powers of potential relevance to bait collection activity, and restrictions on applying these (from DETR 1998 a).

Competent Authority Regulatory Powers Restrictions
Nature Conservation Agencies
  • To make byelaws to protect MNRs.
  • To regulate or prohibit activities within NNRs, including access and movement and killing or removing flora and fauna.
  • If no other competent authority is responsible for controlling damaging activities within Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas under the Habitats Regulations, this will fall within the remit of the agencies.
  • May not regulate fisheries where a regulatory authority already exists.
  • May make byelaws for nature conservation purposes only.
  • May only control damaging activities within SACs or SPAs if no other competent authority exists.
Local Authorities (County Councils, District Councils or Unitary Authorities in England and Wales; Councils in Scotland)
  • To prevent damage, obstruction or annoyance to persons using the seashore.
  • To regulate and prohibit activities for the good rule and government of a district.
  • To regulate and prohibit activities within country parks, to prevent damage to land and to avoid undue interference with the enjoyment of the land.
  • To regulate or prohibit activities within National Parks, AONBs, and areas covered by access agreements to preserve order, prevent damage to land, and prevent undue interference with the enjoyment of land.
  • Cannot be used to prohibit activities completely, or to protect the environment.
  • Cannot be used where other powers exist, or to protect the environment.
Environment Agency
  • Powers of a Sea Fisheries Committee (see below) where none exists. In England and Wales only.
  • As above.
Port and Harbour Authorities
  • To make byelaws for the proper regulation of the harbour.
  • In some cases this may include fishing, use of foreshore, and nature conservation.
  • Powers may not usually be used to protect the environment.
Sea Fisheries Committee
  • To regulate and prohibit fishing for sea fish from high water out to 6 nautical miles from baseline (England and Wales only).
  • May regulate fisheries for environmental purposes under the Environment Act 1995.
  • Required to exercise its functions under the Sea Fisheries (Wildlife Conservation) Act 1992 so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive.
  • Cannot regulate fisheries for non-fisheries purposes.
  • Cannot affect private rights.
  • Sea fish do not include bait worms.

The linked table lists those statutory mechanisms under which competent authorities may control baitdigging by byelaw or other regulation (this is not a comprehensive list).

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