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.