Closure of bait beds
If management under voluntary agreement,
limited zonation or licensing fails, escalation
of control to the complete prohibition of collection
at a site has tended to occur. This is easier for
managers to administer and enforce than any other
management option. Recent case law, however, demonstrates
that closure of any one site can only be a regulatory
measure and must not completely stop bait collection
in an area. Alternative bait sources within a reasonable
distance of the closed site must remain accessible
to collectors. If this were not the case, case law
would support a challenge by anglers to closure
of bait beds. Effectively, therefore, closing bait
beds completely is a form of zonation (described
above) on a larger scale.
Enforcement of legal closures of
bait beds by regulatory authorities 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.
Closure of a bait collection site
has been shown to increase pressure on stocks and
may cause unforeseen conflict at other sites up
to 100 miles away, as demonstrated by the case of
the Budle Bay case study in Northumberland (Appendix).
A similar situation arose in the Helford River,
where bait digging pressure increased as a result
of restrictions on other estuaries such as the Newlyn,
Hayle and Fowey (Minutes of meeting of Helford Voluntary
Marine Conservation Area, 6/1/93). There are also
reports of bait diggers from the Newcastle area
travelling to southwest Scotland in order to collect
bait, as a result of bait bed closures on the Northumberland
coast (D. Donnan pers. comm.).
Careful assessment of the likely
results of a bait collection ban and consultation
with other site managers in the region is therefore
essential before a closure is implemented. Ultimately,
closure of bait beds should only be undertaken as
a last resort and as part of an overall regional
strategy for bait collection.