Management options


This chapter draws on a review of the legal framework, summarised in the previous chapter, and a series of case studies (described in an Appendix) that examined examples of shoreline species collection management in the UK and overseas. The major management options for minimising the impacts of shoreline species collection on nature conservation features that were identified through these reviews and their advantages and disadvantages are briefly summarised in a table. The table below provides a slightly different perspective, by matching collection activities with the potential management options available. More detailed information on each possible management options, their effectiveness, and the potential management problems associated with implementing them appears in the following sections.

Impacts and management options

Activity Impacts Management options
Crab collection
  • Damage to habitat and non-target species, including bird disturbance.
  • Safety problems and other conflicts to shore and water users.
  • Stock depletion unlikely to be serious, but potential impact on commercial stocks by removing undersize specimens.
  • Educational programme (through tackle shops and angling press) to promote code of conduct for boulder turning.
  • Voluntary agreements for regulation of crab shelter numbers and locations.
  • Options for control under Sea Fisheries byelaws include permanent or rotational closure of areas to collection, Several or Regulating Orders, bag limits, and licensing of collectors.
  • Minimum sizes apply for some species. Could be extended to others.
Mollusc collection
  • Damage to habitats and species.
  • Some populations of long-lived and slow-reproducing molluscs may be of nature conservation importance.
  • Collection may conflict with commercial fisheries, where not controlled by Several Order.
  • Digging may cause amenity or safety problems for other shore users.
  • Educational programme to promote code of conduct for bag limits, minimum sizes, and/or zonation of activity.
  • Razor fish collection for commercial gain prohibited by local authority lease-holder in south-west Wales.
  • Options for control under Sea Fisheries byelaws may include permanent or rotational closure of areas to collection, controls on gear used, Several or Regulating Orders, bag limits, minimum sizes, and licensing of collectors.
Bait digging
  • Potential conflict with nature conservation (non-target species and habitat damage).
  • May conflict with fisheries operations.
  • May cause damage to vessels and coastal structures.
  • May be incompatible with some amenity uses and harbour operations.
  • Codes of conduct, promoted through tackle shops and angling press.
  • Voluntary agreements with recreational and commercial users.
  • Regulating extent of baitdigging (through permanent, seasonal or temporary zonation, licences, and/or bag limits).
  • Prohibition or regulation of commercial bait digging only.
  • As a last resort, prohibition of bait digging by one of a number of nature conservation agency, fisheries, local authority and harbour authority byelaws, where the activity impinges on these organisations’ responsibilities.
  • (Bait digging is unregulated by legislation targeted at this activity.)

Many of the case studies examined and summarised in Appendix II illustrate attempts to address management issues after species collection had been identified as a serious cause for concern, sometimes unsuccessfully or effective only after some false starts. One of the best examples of management (Maine, USA) relies on a legislative framework not available in the UK. It must be stressed, however, that although many of the case studies refer to management problems, these are mostly isolated examples that have affected only a very small number of sites. In the vast majority of UK sites, species collection is either not an issue or is already ‘managed’ effectively, if informally, through voluntary agreement or code of practice. By their very nature, such examples of good management practice are not usually well known (no problem: no publicity).

Where attempts to resolve conflicts between species collection and other interests have had a poor track record, whether through use of codes of conduct, bag limits, conditional licensing schemes, or zonation of activities, the case studies indicate that this is usually due to one of the following factors:

  • Difficulty in communicating with the collectors, because they are neither part of the local community, nor members of a readily identifiable national or regional group. Saunders et al. (1998) indicate that only 10-25% of all sea anglers are members of the National Federation of Sea Anglers or National Federation of Anglers and their member organisations.
  • A lack of resources put into education, policing, and, where necessary, enforcement locally and on site.

It is very important that these factors are considered and addressed in all cases where management of shoreline species collection activity is considered desirable (regardless of the management option selected) if a successful outcome is to be achieved.

When considering management options for managing shoreline species collection (particularly for bait), it is useful to consider the types of individuals that are likely to be undertaking this activity and how they may be consulted over proposals and/or informed of management measures in place. These are listed below in very broad categories (note that these definitions only illustrate extremes along a spectrum of activity and that many commercial collectors also take bait for personal use).

  • Commercial collectors, who regularly use and ‘manage’ the same area of local shore in order to provide regular supplies of bait to retail outlets. These individuals are usually identifiable, and may be encouraged to form a local ‘user group’ for the discussion of bait collection issues.
  • Experienced bait collectors, based in the area, who collect for personal use, are part of a local users group, and/or members of one of the existing national or regional angling organisations.
  • Inexperienced, local or visiting bait collectors, who only take bait a few times a year for personal use, are inexperienced (inefficient or careless) or unconcerned with the sustainability of marine resources, may live a long way from the area, and do not belong to a user group or organisation.
  • Commercial collectors, whether local or visiting the area, who may have taken up commercial bait digging for a short period only, be inexperienced and inefficient, and/or have no concern for local bait stocks.

This range of user groups will pose constraints on the effectiveness of several of the available management options. Implementation of voluntary codes or agreements by the last two groups listed above is likely to be most difficult to achieve. Where visiting anglers take bait, or collectors travel long distances to bait beds, it is extremely difficult to contact them through local education or interpretation initiatives. A national campaign, utilising tackle shops and angling press would be more helpful. Additionally, it is possible that a few bait collectors are simply not concerned with local environmental issues.

Unsuccessful attempts to use either voluntary forms of agreement or complex compromise arrangements for regulating incompatible activities have in the past tended to escalate towards the most straightforward method of control: simple exclusion of all collectors from problem areas. This draconian solution has the merit of being easy to understand, and relatively easy to police and enforce on site. It does, however, have serious limitations, including the diversion of collection effort to other unmanaged areas, potentially leading to more serious problems elsewhere, and very expensive legal fees if challenged by collectors in court. As such, it should only be considered as a solution of last resort.

Enforcement of legal controls on shoreline species collection has sometimes been hampered by the rather cloudy legal position of the public right to collect shoreline species. There is also an overall unwillingness on the part of authorities to resort to the expense of a prosecution (and subsequent appeals) to test the law. Recent judgements in case law have still not fully resolved the legal position.

Voluntary codes of conduct

Participation in local management initiatives

Bag limits


Closed seasons


Closure of bait beds

Prohibition of commercial bait collection activities

Development of regional bait collection management strategies