Improving retail sources of bait
Many anglers prefer to purchase
their own bait, rather than travel long distances
or incur the discomfort of collecting their own
supplies from the shore (particularly in winter).
Rising prices and poor quality retail stocks will,
however, still drive many anglers back onto the
shore. Increasing quantities of bait derived from
farmed stocks of native species are now available
through retail suppliers. Up to now king ragworm
Nereis virens has been the main species available,
derived from native stocks in the Netherlands, but
lugworm farming is under development and should
begin to yield blow lug Arenicola marina and/or
black lug A. defodiens supplies soon. Other
species (catworms Nephtys spp. and peeler
crab Carcinus maenus) may soon follow. This
trend should lead to a reduction of bait collection
effort on the shore. Eco-labelling might help to
promote sales of environmentally-friendly farmed
stock and should be encouraged.
Imports of native bait species
also take place from wild fisheries in Ireland and
the Netherlands. Such imports are of great importance
for angling, but it cannot be guaranteed that these
are from sustainably managed stocks there
is no management yet of bait collection in Ireland.
Import of unmanaged, unsustainable commercially
dug worm stocks from any area is undesirable. As
with the provision of farmed worm stocks, eco-labelling
for sustainably managed worm fisheries should be
Small quantities of lugworm taken
as a bycatch from bivalve fisheries in south-western
England are now also available to the retail trade.
Imports of non-native species (e.g.
from Japan or Korea) to other European countries,
particularly in the Mediterranean, are becoming
widespread. No evidence was obtained of any such
imports of live bait to the UK, and the introduction
of any non-native species to the sea in the UK would
be illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act
(1981). Steps should be taken to actively discourage
retailers or worm farmers considering such imports,
and to inform anglers that release to the wild of
non-native species is a prosecutable offence under
the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and could
be environmentally damaging. The potential environmental
implications of introducing large predatory Polychaete
worms to UK waters are alarming.