Statutory mechanisms and regulating authorities for the management of bait collection

Legislation Statutory Authority & purpose of legislation Examples of bait collection controls (mainly from Fowler 1992)
Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
  • Enforced by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD) and Local Authorities.
  • Enables Councils to make byelaws for the purpose of preventing nuisance or danger at, or preserving or improving the amenity of the seashore, and for conserving the natural beauty of the seashore by regulating the exercise of sporting and recreational activities.
  • Competent authorities with functions under S. 120 to 122 of this Act (control of the seashore and adjacent waters) must exercise these so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998).
  • Three authorities in Fife (Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and North East Fife) co-operated in drafting byelaws to govern the seashore and adjacent waters for the above purposes under this Act. These appear to provide a means of preventing baitdigging in specified areas. It is unknown whether any Council has attempted to use their byelaws for this purpose.
Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994
  • Transpose the requirements of the Habitats Directive into national law and provide for the conservation of SACs and SPAs in Great Britain. Regulations 22-24 allow for ‘special nature conservation orders’ to be made.
  • None yet enacted. However, if (as seems likely) no other competent authority is responsible for controlling this activity, it will fall within the remit of the nature conservation agencies.
Control of Pollution Act 1974
  • Competent authorities with functions under Part II of this Act must exercise these so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998).
Countryside Act 1968
  • One of the enactments under which compliance with Habitats Directive requirements will be secured. Section 15 applies to sites of Special Scientific Interest. (DETR 1998)
Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 and 1981
  • Enforced by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD), Scottish Natural Heritage, and Local Authorities.
  • Regulates and prohibits activities in country parks, to prevent damage to land and to avoid undue interference with enjoyment of land.
  • One of the enactments under which compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive will be secured (specifically Section 49A which covers management agreements) (DETR 1998).
  • East Lothian Council regulates the uses of John Muir Country Park (baitdigging for private, non-commercial use permitted) and Aberlady LNR (all baitdigging prohibited).
  • Commercial baitdigging has been prohibited in the Montrose Basin LNR. Baitdigging for personal use is permitted in a specified area of the Reserve.
  • North East Fife Council controls baitdigging in the Eden Estuary LNR (enforced only for commercial activity).
Environment Act 1995
  • Major statute repealing and amending much previous environmental legislation.
  • Environment Agency for England and Wales is required to ‘protect and enhance the environment’. Has powers of a Sea Fisheries Committee where none exists.
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency has, inter alia, pollution control functions.
Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Requires ‘statutory nuisances’ to be dealt with by local authorities. One of the enactments under which compliance with the requirements of Sections 131 to 134 of the Habitats Directive will be secured (DETR 1998).
Food and Environment Protection Act 1985
  • MAFF and SERAD issue licences to dump below the high water mark.
  • Might cover installation of crab shelters (fishing gear is exempt).
Dockyard Ports Regulation Act 1865
  • Competent authorities with functions under this Act must exercise these so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998).
Habitats Directive/Habitats Regulations : see Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 (above)
Harbours Act 1964
  • Statutory powers are conferred on Harbour Authorities by local legislation. Harbour Acts are specific to each authority and vary considerably, depending upon local circumstances and commercial and other activities in the Harbour area.
  • The obligation of the ports industry to the environment is included within its statutory powers, but these powers are tied to their primary statutory function - administering ports and coastal waters within their jurisdiction for use by commercial vessels. Even though the 1992 Transport Act (see below) gave environmental powers and duties to Ports and Harbour Authorities, their existing Harbour Acts and byelaw making powers do not enable them to take any action for the protection of the environment. Most Harbour Act byelaws control baitdigging in order to ensure that it does not interfere with commercial activities (e.g. navigation, anchoring, and safety of structures or vessels).
  • Competent authorities with functions under this Act must exercise these so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998). This may mean applying for new powers by means of an order under the Harbours Act 1964.
  • Chichester Harbour Conservancy byelaws (prohibit baitdigging within 50 feet of any mooring or 20 ft of any structure).
  • Fowey Harbour Order Act (1937) and Fowey Harbour Byelaws (1996) enable the Commissioners to prohibit bait digging from areas of moorings and slipways, and the laying of crab traps in areas where they pose an obstruction to anchoring or navigation.
  • Langstone Harbour Board byelaw (1984) prohibits baitdigging within 3 m of moorings and 10 m of slipways or jetties.
  • Penzance Harbour Byelaws (1980) prohibit digging outside designated areas, to prevent direct or indirect damage to boats and moorings.
  • Port of Sunderland Dock Estate byelaw prohibits baitdigging in the Dock Estate.
  • Scarborough Harbour Act (1843), has a clause preventing baitdigging within the Harbour area in the interests of safety.
  • Torbay Borough Council’s Tor Bay Harbour Byelaws control baitdigging activity in Torquay Inner Harbour, Brixham Harbour and Paignton Harbour.
Local Government Act 1972
  • Section 235 provides local authorities with powers to enact byelaws for good rule and government and suppression of nuisances.
  • Cannot be used where more specific legislation is available.
Military Lands Act 1900
  • Competent authorities with functions under Section 2(2) (provisions as to use of sea, tidal water or shore) must exercise these so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998).
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, Sections 20 and 106
  • Local authorities have powers to make byelaws for local nature reserves under Section 20.
  • Section 20(2)(b) enables byelaws to be made that prohibit or restrict the killing, taking, molesting or disturbance of living creatures of any description in a nature reserve.
  • Section 101(8) provides that such byelaws apply to Crown land if the Crown Estate Commissioners consent.
  • Part III of this Act is identified by DETR (1998) as one of the enactments under which compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive will be secured.
  • Very few local authorities use their nature reserve byelaws to control baitdigging, at least partly due to cost and anticipated enforcement difficulties.
  • Teignbridge DC does not use it to prohibit baitdigging in the Dawlish Warren LNR.
  • Kent County Council uses byelaws to control baitdigging and collection of other intertidal organisms in part of the Swale LNR by issuing permits. (Havard and Tindall 1991 report that very few bait diggers here hold a licence.)
  • The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park byelaws potentially affect all Crown foreshore in Dyfed (National Park foreshore), but have not been enforced and used to control baitdigging.
National Trust Act 1907, National Trust Act (Northern Ireland) 1946, National Trust Act 1971, Section 24
  • Enable byelaws which, inter alia, may:
  • a) prohibit any person without lawful authority from digging ... sand, clay, or other substance;
  • e) prohibit injury of any building, structure or other thing;
  • n) generally prohibit or regulate any act or thing tending to injure of disfigure the land ... or to interfere with the use and enjoyment thereof by the public.
  • Byelaws may prevent taking, molesting, wilfully disturbing, injuring or destroying wildlife, provided that ‘nothing in or done under any of the provisions of the foregoing byelaws shall in any respect prejudice or injuriously affect the rights of any person’...
  • An attempted prosecution of three bait diggers in Newton Haven, Northumberland, September 1985 was unsuccessful.
  • The National Trust (Northern Ireland) has tried, unsuccessfully, to use its byelaws to prevent individuals from collecting shellfish and digging bait over the entire foreshore owned by the Trust in Strangford Lough. The Judgement by Girvan in Adair v The National Trust was that there was a common law right for species collection from the foreshore and bed of the Lough.
  • The Trust is currently reviewing its powers.
Public Health Acts (Amendment) Act 1907, Section 82
  • These generally ensure public safety, maintain the appearance of beaches for amenity purposes, or safeguard harbour walls, slipways and boat moorings.
  • Local Authorities may enact byelaws ‘for the prevention of danger, obstruction or annoyance to persons using the seashore.’
  • Some byelaws under this act make provision for digging permits to be made available, either for locals only, or at certain times of the year, in specified areas or conditional upon back-filling of holes.
  • It is unclear whether it is necessary for the land to be owned or leased by the Local Authority for this power to be applied. Section 82 does not mention any such constraints, and Section 94, which applies to navigation on the sea, clearly enables local authorities to regulate activities within areas that are neither owned or leased.
  • Fowler (1992) noted that there was much inconsistency in approach to the use of this legislation reported, with some authorities being unable to obtain clearance for byelaws which had been approved in other districts.
  • Alnwick District Council regulates baitdigging to prevent problems when launching boats: ‘without lawful right or authority no person shall in any part of the restricted area dig for ragworms or for any form of fishing bait’.
  • Caradon DC regulates baitdigging at Torpoint, where moored vessels had been damaged, and hazards caused to the public by holes left in the shore).
  • Eastleigh DC (controls at Netley since 1978 due to concern over hazards of bait dug holes to the general public).
  • Maldon District Council (in respect of a Several Fishery area – granted prior to the Magna Carta – to prevent damage to foreshore and injury to public as a result of commercial baitdigging).
  • Lancaster City Council proposed a byelaw (for foreshore owned at Morecambe and Heysham).
  • Other authorities considering introducing such byelaws have been discouraged likely difficulties and enforcement costs (e.g. at Filey Beach, North Yorkshire).
Sea Fisheries Regulation Act, 1966
  • Sea Fisheries Committees (SFC) enact regulatory byelaws within their Districts in England and Wales under this Act.
  • These may prevent baitdigging where it would conflict with other fishing activities.
Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act, 1967
  • Provides powers to establish Several or Regulating Orders.
  • Several Orders give exclusive rights to an individual or company to take named species of shellfish within a defined area, and may protect shellfish from harm caused by other activities (e.g. bait collection).
  • Regulating Orders enable a Local Authority or other suitable body to regulate a fishery, usually by licensing fishermen.
  • A South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee byelaw limits areas open to baitdigging to protect access to the Burry Inlet cockle fishery and cockle stocks.
  • Several SFCs protect mussel beds from baitdigging and other forms of disturbance by byelaw.
  • Enforced in Scotland by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD).
Sea Fisheries (Wildlife Conservation) Act 1992
  • Gives Sea Fisheries Committees nature conservation duties that must be used to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive (DETR 1998).
Transport and Works Act 1992
  • Amendment of Schedule 2 of the Harbours Act 1964 by the Transport and Works Act 1992 enables harbour authorities to seek harbour revision orders for the conservation of fauna and flora, if ‘the appropriate Minister is satisfied that the making of the order is desirable in the interests of ... the management of the harbour in an efficient and economical manner’.
  • These new provisions had not yet been used several years after enactment (DoE 1996). Expecting every harbour authority independently to seek revisions of their own harbour orders is obviously be a time-consuming and inefficient way to progress. DETR is currently considering giving environmental powers to all ports in under a single Act.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Part I and Sections 28 to 28 are identified by DETR (1998) as one of the enactments under which compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive will be secured.
  • Section 29 enables byelaws and Nature Conservation Orders to be made for the management of Marine Nature Reserves and National Nature Reserves, although such byelaws are only rarely enforced.
  • Competent authorities with functions under Sections 36 and 37 of this Act (Marine Nature Reserves) must exercise these in European Marine Sites so as to secure compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive, provided that this does not interfere with or override the exercise of the functions of any other relevant authority (DETR 1998).
  • ‘The removal of any fauna for use of bait, whether by digging, bait pump, or any other means’ is prohibited under Section 29 within part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. (A Public Inquiry held in 1994 found that proposed changes to the byelaws and Nature Conservation Order were expedient and necessary.)
  • Regulation 36 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations (1994) requires the statutory conservation agencies to use Section 37 byelaw-making powers if there is no other relevant authority or the relevant authority is unable to act for legal or practical reasons.
Miscellaneous Local Authority Acts
The Humberside Act (1982)
  • Provides Cleethorpes Borough Council with powers to control ‘digging for or removal of sand, bait etc. from the seashore’. It re-enacts a similar control in the Cleethorpes Improvement Act (1902).
  • Fowler (1992) reports that about 140 individuals are licensed to dig for bait in a designated area at one end of an amenity beach. There had been about 20 prosecutions for illegal baitdigging under the Act. The Borough Council was asked to relax this control in order to allow baitdiggers to take bait from the restricted area, because the designated digging area was hard to dig over. The Council was advised not to change this policy because it would have resulted in the restricted area of beach becoming similarly damaged by extensive bait digging (Olive, pers. comm.).
The Southend-on-Sea Corporation Act (1895)
  • Enables the Borough of Southend-on-Sea to limit baitdigging to areas seaward of a quarter mile limit from the seawall and certain hardways beyond this distance. The byelaw was enacted because of the public nuisance and potential danger caused by holes left by baitdiggers.
  • Numerous successful prosecutions had been made and an injunction obtained against one persistent offender, who was reportedly imprisoned (Fowler 1992).
Isle of Wight County Council Act (1980)
  • Enables District Councils to control baitdigging under byelaw.