Bag limits

Bag limits or quotas are frequently used for the conservation of natural resources and can be very successful if backed by adequate education and enforcement. They may also reduce impacts by limiting damaging activities associated with harvesting, particularly those undertaken by commercial collectors. Bag limits for intertidal species are very likely to be acceptable to recreational collectors, and will reduce commercial collection activity by making this less economically viable.

However, bag limits for small organisms such as bait species are very difficult to enforce, even if resources are available for education and regular inspection and policing on site. Experience from the case study of bait digging in the Burry Inlet described in the Appendix demonstrates that the lugworm bag limits briefly enacted here are very easy to circumvent (bait diggers simply buried excess numbers if Fisheries Officers were seen to be approaching). Additionally, preventing commercial bait digging through the imposition of bag limits is likely to result in an increase in numbers of bait diggers on the shore. The new bait diggers will be individuals who are no longer able to obtain commercial supplies and therefore driven to digging for their own bait, likely in a less effective and more damaging manner.

Successful introduction and enforcement of bag limits for shoreline species may therefore actually lead to increased numbers of bait diggers, larger areas of shore being dug less effectively, increased levels of damage to habitats and non-target species, and increased conflict with other users. The New South Wales case study (Appendix) demonstrates that even the successful imposition of low bag limits can be ineffective in preventing depletion of resources if the numbers of collectors active at a site is very large.

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