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NW IFCA - Archive

LATEST NEWS - For older news please visit the News page. Specific information about shell fisheries in the district can be found on the cockle or mussel pages

SEIZURES - please click here to view recent fish, shellfish, gear and equipment seizures.


Authorisation for seed mussel dredge New Brighton, Wirral - posted 9th Sept 2015

The NWIFCA have been approached by industry asking for authorisation to dredge a small area of loose seed mussel at New Brighton, Wirral – click on the HRA link below to view the illustrative map and co-ordinates.

This proposal was discussed at the Bivalve Mollusc Working Group meeting on 4th September.

The seed mussel is being heavily predated on by starfish and lies on very thick soft and unstable mussel mud. It is rapidly washing out. There is only an estimated 300-400 tonnes remaining from the original stock. It lies mainly within the channel, with only the edges of the bed uncovering on the largest spring tides. It is likely to have suffered near total natural mortality by the end of September.

The bed lies within the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area and the Mersey Narrows and North Wirral Foreshore Special Protection Area, plus the Dee Estuary Special Area of Conservation. A Habitats Regulations Assessment has been undertaken (link). Natural England has agreed to the NWIFCA’s conclusion of no adverse effect on the integrity of the European Marine Sites.

Stakeholders in the New Brighton area have been consulted and informed of the reasons for the decision to authorise the dredge fishery. Please contact if you would like further information.


NWIFCA update report: Proposed Mersey Capital Dredge and possible use of a previously unknown stock of seed mussel. Click here to download the report.


Opportunity to influence management of England’s inshore fisheries

The MMO is looking to recruit members for the North Western, North Eastern and Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA).

Each IFCA needs members who will take a balanced approach to caring for the seas, assessing the priority and importance of all users and stakeholders. This vacancy is an opportunity for someone who wants to improve the quality of the inshore areas of northern England.

The role is on a voluntary basis although relevant expenses may be reimbursed.

The deadline for applications is 28 August 2015.

For further information, please click on the following links:


Notice to all Byelaw 3 permit holders - posted 11th August 2015

Heysham Flat Seed Mussel Fishery

Following survey of the seed mussel stock and full Habitats Regulations Assessment, the NWIFCA Technical Science and Byelaws Sub-committee has approved the opening of hand-gathering of seed mussel at Heysham Flat skear from Monday 17th August 2015.

The authorisation to hand-gather can be found here: (link to Authorisation pdf). Please ensure that you are fully familiar with the conditions of the authorisation, including the area that must not be fished or crossed by quad bike to protect the honeycomb worm reef, as shown in the map below.

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Lancaster City Council have issued documents for use by gangmasters and individuals regarding beach access which can be downloaded here: (link to Shellfish buyers pdf and link to shellfish collection pdf).


Notice to all Byelaw 3 permit holders - posted 3rd August 2015

The cockle stock on the Leven cockle bed (Morecambe Bay) was surveyed for the third time this summer on 30th July 2015.

Results from each survey have shown that stocks are not of sufficient quantity to open a commercial fishery.

Therefore this bed will remain closed until further notice.


Byelaw no: 8 - posted 3rd July 2015

The Authority, at its meeting held on 12th June 2015, has agreed to make a new byelaw to prohibit the practice of foul hooking sea fish.  The new Byelaw no: 8 will replace the current NW & NW SFC byelaw no: 18 and Cumbria SFC byelaw no: 17.

For more information, please click on one of the following:

Copy of the advertisement, or a copy of the report, draft byelaw and impact assessment


Byelaw no: 3 Permit Holders - posted 2nd July 2015

Dear permit holder,

As you know, the Seafish Foreshore Gatherers Safety Training Course has been extensively revised and will in future be renewable every 5 years.

*   Please note NWIFCA will not require a new course certificate for 2015-16 Byelaw 3 permit renewal and your existing foreshore gatherers certificate will continue to be accepted for another year.

*     New permit holders will be required to have a valid certificate from the new Seafish Foreshore Gatherers Safety Training Course.

*     However NWIFCA strongly advise all Byelaw 3 permit holders to attend the new course as soon as possible for your own personal safety.

This note does not change Welsh Government requirements for the new course for renewal of their permits to fish in Wales

Apologies for any confusion caused by previous communications about the new course.


Dr Stephen Atkins - CEO NWIFCA 


Byelaw 3 permit holders Notice - posted 21st May 2015

Notice to all Byelaw 3 permit holders

Following reports from the industry of a stock of cockles on the Leven Island bed in north Morecambe Bay the Senior Scientist and IFCO Dixon accompanied local shrimp fishermen on to the bed on 11th May to inspect the stock. It was evident that although not in mass quantity, there is a greater abundance of cockles there of all age classes than has been seen in the Bay for many years and a full survey was organised for three days later to provide data for the Habitats Regulations Assessment that is necessary before consideration of opening a fishery can be given, and to ensure accurate information is brought to the Authority.

However due to high winds, when the survey was conducted results were extremely poor and not considered to be representative of what had been seen on the bed three days earlier. A repeat survey is therefore planned for as soon as possible (when the winds have abated).

This information is posted to ensure Byelaw 3 permit holders have up to date information on cockle stocks in the area which may have a bearing regarding your permit renewals (due by end of August).

If you have any comments or questions regarding this notice, please contact one of your representatives on the Bivalve Mollusc Working Group – Tim Manning, Gary Pidduck or Terry Davies. The next meeting of BMWG is planned for the end of June / beginning of July and these can be fed into that group for discussion and informing NWIFCA TSB.

It must be emphasised that IF stocks are sufficient to open a fishery, it will only be low level.

The stock on this bed, which as far as is known is the only bed in the Bay in this condition, is improved on past years, but it is not as abundant as in the large fishery years in the 2000s and must be kept in perspective.


Bivalve Mollusc Working Group - the report of the first meeting of the 30th April 2015 has been released.  Please click here to download.


BASS - posted 13th May 2015

On the 29th March 2015, the EU brought into force a 3 fish daily bag limit for bass in recreational fisheries in relevant areas, of which the whole of Irish Sea area VIIIA is included.  The NW IFCA will be actively enforcing this legislation with effect from 1st June 2015

Click here to download NW IFCA Bass Notice


Emergency Byelaw – Minimum Size for Landing, Carriage and Sale of Lobsters (Homarus Gammarus) - posted 7th April 2015

NWIFCA has now brought in an emergency byelaw under sections 155 and 157 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

The rational for this Byelaw is that the within the schedule of Sea Fishing (Enforcment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Order SI191 of 2015 that was brought in by DEFRA on the 6th March, IFCO enforceable legislation was revoked.

Specifically SI 1503 of 2000 (The Under Sized Lobsters Order) was revoked which set a national size of 87mm for landing, carriage and sale for Lobsters.

The emergency byelaw will remain in force until the 1st April 2016 (unless revoked earlier). 

To download a copy of the byelaw, please click here.  To download a copy of the Impact Assessment, please click here.


Heysham Flat Honeycomb Worm Condition Report 2014

The NWIFCA science team continue to work in partnership with Cumbria Wildlife Trust Marine Trainees programme to produce the annual report on the condition of the honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata) reef at Heysham Flat, Morecambe Bay. This is a fascinating area where the worms are in constant competition with edible mussel (Mytilus edulis) that commonly recruits in dense aggregations on the skear. The main reef area is protected from bottom towed gear through NWIFCA Byelaw 6 Protection for European Marine Site Features. The 2014 report can be found here: Please click here.

Bivalve Mollusc Working Group – notice to different sectors regarding representation

Following the call put out for representation from interested sectors in the Bivalve Mollusc Working Group, please refer to the Terms of Reference (link) for the number of places for each sector.

Specifically there are two places for representation on this group from Byelaw 3 permit holders, two from the seed mussel dredge fishery in Morecambe Bay, and one place for representation from shellfish buyers.

NWIFCA Officers have a role to co-ordinate the group, but not to nominate representation.

That is for each sector to decide on.

Once this has been agreed please inform the NWIFCA Officers via as soon as possible so that the first meeting can be convened as soon as practically possible.


Common Fisheries Policy: Demersal Landing Obligation – posted 27th February 2015

Defra and MMO officials will be running drop in sessions to discuss and answer questions about the demersal landing obligation, at:

The Mount Pub, The Esplanade, Fleetwood, FY7 6QE - 17th March between 11:30-16:30

AND at The Fish Hall, North Harbour, North Shore, Whitehaven, CA28 7XY - 18th March between 10:00-15:30.

The public consultation on the implementation of the demersal landing obligation launched in January and will run until 31st March 2015.

To support its launch Defra policy officials and MMO colleagues are hosting a series of meetings around England’s coast to gather your views on how best to implement this and use the range of exemptions/quota flexibilities available. 

If you cannot attend this meeting we would still very much welcome your views. The consultation can be found at:

Angus Cragg (Defra), Arvind Thandi (Defra) and your local MMO coastal representative look forward to meeting you.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)


Bivalve Mollusc Working Group - posted 20th February 2015

Call for representatives on BIVALVE MOLLUSC WORKING GROUP

The NWIFCA is facilitating the setting up of a Bivalve Mollusc Working Group for the District and is sending out a call for relevant sectors to put forward representatives to join the group.

The purpose of the group is to foster good relations between the various sectors with an interest in bivalve mollusc shellfish in the NWIFCA District, and to encourage co-existence and agreed sustainable management regimes between all sectors.


1)         To ensure bivalve mollusc resources are managed sustainably;

2)         To balance the social and economic benefits of fisheries activity against the statutory duty to protect designated marine habitats and species from such activities;

3)         To balance the interests of all stakeholders with an interest in those fisheries;

4)         To annually agree a plan for fair access to and sustainable exploitation of those resources by all sectors;

5)         To support the decision making of the NWIFCA TSB sub-committee, by providing information and recommendations on the management of mussel and cockle fisheries in the NWIFCA District.

Status of the group:

The group will be non-statutory and voluntary. It will make recommendations to NWIFCA via TSB sub-committee. It will not be decision making or regulatory. NWIFCA will take account of outputs of this group.

The BMWG meetings will provide a forum for NWIFCA, Byelaw 3 permit holders, seed mussel industry, nature conservation and other stakeholders to discuss issues relating to the fisheries, and to discuss, agree and plan on an annual basis how the resources should be best managed, in accordance with the IFCA duties of managing resources sustainably, and the NWIFCA’s adopted Sustainability Principles.

It will provide a mechanism for all sectors to input into the management of these resources, provide a means for better understanding of each sectors interests and concerns, and provide a mechanism for informing where data gaps exist and research requirements lie.

It will provide a mechanism for annually agreeing a plan for fair access to and sustainable exploitation of those resources by all sectors.

Membership of BMWG

Membership of the group will consist of representatives from the following sectors and organisations. The number of representatives from each sector is initially set and is indicated in brackets:

•           Byelaw 3 permit holders (2)

•           Seed mussel dredge fishery (2)

•           Natural England (1)

•           Shellfish buyers (1)

•           Aquaculture (1)

•           NGO representation – eg. RSPB, WLT, (3)

•           Science expertise – eg. Bangor Uni, Liverpool Uni, Lancaster Uni, University of Cumbria (2)

Initially the BMWG will concentrate on the mussel fisheries in Morecambe Bay.

However depending on the location of the fisheries the group will need to adapt, and possibly grow in size while continually ensuring a balance of representation from all sectors. Nominations for new members will be publicised and welcomed, and the group is committed to ensuring that membership is representative of the issues being explored by BMWG.

Industry representatives must represent all viewpoints in their sector and not act in self-interest.

Representatives must have a commitment to a consensus approach to decision making.

BMWG members make a commitment to attendance of and participation in the group, and the representatives of each sector will be expected to participate in all meetings and be actively involved in work undertaken by the group.  The continuity of individuals attending meetings is integral to the momentum and success of the group’s work.

Full Terms of Reference for the BMWG can be found by clicking here.

It is for individual sectors to nominate their representatives. Once you have decided on your representative(s) please forward their contact details so an inaugural meeting can be arranged to: 


National Grid Routing Options Consultation - posted 3rd February 2015

National Grid continues to spread the word about Connections Project.  To download the update click here.  For previous information see News pages of this website.


Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) - posted Friday 30th January 2015

DEFRA's consultation on their Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Proposals for UK Programme of Measures, can be found by clicking the following link in order to obtain more information and to download the consultation document:


Consultation on more Marine Conservation Zones opens - posted Friday 30th January 2015

DEFRA's consultation on Sites Proposed for Designation in the Second Tranche of Marine Conservation Zones - January 2015.  The press notice and consultation document can be downloaded by clicking on either of the following:  

Press notice

Consulation Document

Two sites in the north east Irish Sea have been recommended for designation in Tranche 2:  Allonby Bay and West of Walney.  A third, the Mud Hole was not considered suitable for designation at this time. There are a variety of reasons for this site not proceeding at this stage.  Details are provided in the consultation document and site summaries.  Mud Hole has not been permanently removed from consideration and, where appropriate, will be further considered for inclusion in the third tranche. 


Appointment of IFCA Members posted 19th January 2015

The Marine Management Organisation is looking to appoint a number of members with marine experience to contribute to the work of the North Western IFCA influencing the management of inshore fisheries.

For more information and the steps involved in the application process, please click here.

Application forms can be found on Hays Executive website by clicking on the following link:


Heysham Flat Seed Mussel Fishery – 2014-15 - posted 12th January 2015

The NWIFCA now revokes the authorisation issued to Byelaw 3 permit holders to gather undersize mussel from Heysham Flat skear, with immediate effect. Natural storm impact and erosion has now scoured out the resource from the upper skear.


West of Morecambe Fisheries Fund - call for funding proposals - click here to be redirected to the News & Notices pages of this website


NW IFCA - posted 15th December 2014

The North Western Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority are looking to recruit an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officer, to be based at the Carnforth office.  For more information please click on the vacancies page.  The closing date for applications is the 20th January 2015.


Cumbria Wildlife Trust is advertising for a Trainee Marine and Coastal Conservation Officer. For further details click here to be redirected to the Partnership Working page


NW IFCA Biosecurity Plan - posted 9th December 2014

The North-Western IFCA has produced a Biosecurity Plan for its district, finalised in November 2014. It is intended for use by all marine stakeholders in the NWIFCA district and covers the prevention and control of the spread of marine invasive non-native species and shellfish disease. It details the current status of the area, potential threats to fisheries, and suggested measures to improve biosecurity and attempt to avoid any potentially damaging effects in the future. The plan includes reference to species that spend part of their lifecycle in freshwater and links with previously produced plans in the surrounding area to ensure biosecurity measures join up across the district. It is envisaged the plan will run until 2019 when it will be fully updated, although sections on disease and invasive species will be continually updated to reflect changes in the area.

For further information and supporting documents, please click on Science & Research near the top of this page.


Heysham Flat Seed Mussel Fishery -  posted 26th August 2014 - authorisation updated 5th December 2014

Heysham Seed mussel Fishery will open on the 26th of August 2014 to all current Byelaw 3 permit holders.
An authorisation to hand-gather seed mussel which derogates against the minimum size is provided below and applies to current Byelaw 3 permit holders only.
Fishing will be allowed during daylight hours on weekdays only. Daylight refers to 1.5 hours before sunrise and 1 hour after sunset.
Any access queries should be directed to Lancaster City Council.
All Byelaw 3 permit holders, (including support workers) must have their permits on them for inspection by NWIFCA fishery officers.
No fishing is to take place within the area bound by the demarcation lines which are in place with red and white posts. Please see the attached map for details. This is to protect the Honeycomb worm reef which occurs in this area. These are a protected species, and damaging them could lead to a fine of up to £20,000, revoking of all authorisations and closure of the fishery.
Please read the full authorisation before fishing. A detailed map of where fishing is allowed is included within.
Please refer back to this website regularly for updates on the fishery.
A new Byelaw 3 permit for 2014/2015 will be required from the 1st of September 2014. Application forms can be downloaded from the website. 
Please click here (uploaded on 5th December 2014) to download  the authorisation to hand-gather seed mussel which derogates against the minimum size - applicable to current Byelaw 3 permit holders only.


Principles for Sustainable Fisheries - adopted by the NW IFCA in September 2011 - posted 6th August 2014

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) IFCAs must manage the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in their district (s153(1)), and in performing that duty they must seek to ensure that the exploitation is carried out in a sustainable way (s153(2)).
In order to guide the NWIFCA in preforming this duty the Authority adopted a Set of Principles for Sustainable Fisheries in September 2011. These are used as a standard intended to guide the work of the NWIFCA in managing sea fisheries resources in its District. The Principles have been adapted from those developed by the Marine Stewardship Council who used an extensive, international consultative process through which the views of stakeholders in fisheries were gathered.
The Principles reflect a recognition that a sustainable fishery should be based upon:
- The maintenance and re-establishment of healthy populations of targeted species;
- The maintenance of the integrity of ecosystems;
- The development and maintenance of effective fisheries management systems, taking into account all relevant biological, technological, economic, social, environmental and commercial aspects; and
- Compliance with relevant local and national laws and standards and international understandings and agreements.
The Principles are further designed to recognise and emphasise that management efforts are most likely to be successful in accomplishing the goals of conservation and sustainable use of marine resources when there is full co-operation among the full range of fisheries stakeholders, including those who are dependent on fishing for their food and livelihood. The NWIFCA further recognises the need to observe and respect the long-term interests of people dependent on fishing for food and livelihood to the extent that it is consistent with ecological sustainability, and also the importance of fisheries management and operations being
conducted in a manner consistent with established local, national, and international rules and standards. The full set of Sustainability principles can be found by clicking here 
PRESS RELEASE - NW IFCA byelaw no: 3 - Section 21 - requirement to complete monthly catch returns

From the 1st July 2014, it will be a requirement under Section 21 of the NW IFCA byelaw no: 3, that all permit holders will need to submit monthly returns.

Please click here to download the Press Release or a returns form


NW IFCA new byelaw no: 6 prohibiting the use of bottom towed fishing gear in Marine Protected Areas is now in force

Please click on the links below to download any of the following documents:

Report presented to the NWIFCA quarterly meeting held on 6th December 2013. 

Byelaw 6 - confirmed on 15th May 2014, is now enforceable.  

RIA - 3rd February 2014.

Lune Deep HRA  9th January 2014

Sabellaria MMO assessment

Subtidal Bedrock MMO assessment

Seagrass MMO assessment



Draft Byelaw 2 - posted 14th May 2014

Further to the TSB on the 2nd May, further amendments have been made to the draft byelaw number 2.  The NW IFCA would like to receive any comments on the draft byelaw, either by email: or by post to either of the IFCAs offices: 1 Preston Street, Carnforth, Lancashire, LA5 9BY - 6 Duncan Square, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 7LN.  Click to download the Draft Byelaw No: 2, or the Impact Assessment.


Mussel relaying trail in the Walney Channel - harvesting the resultsPlease click here to be re-directed to the Mussel page of the website. 

Heysham Bass Nursery Area Byelaw now in force - all fishing prohibited - June 11 2013

NWIFCA Byelaw 5, Heysham Bass Nursery Area Prohibition of Fishing, has been signed off by Defra and entered into force at 00:01 on 11 June 2013. The byelaw states that: 'No person shall fish for any sea fish nor shall have in their possession any article that could be used for fishing for sea fish in the Heysham Bass Nursery Area or within 10 metres of the shore boundary of the Heysham Bass Nursery Area unless with the written permission of the Authority'.

The purpose of the Byelaw is to properly protect young fish in the Bass Nursery Area, and to promote a greater adult population of bass, increasing supply of sized bass outside the area for both commercial and recreational fisheries. It will also facilitate better enforcement of bass minimum landing size.

Notices will be put up around the area and NWIFCA Inshore Fishery and Conservation Officers will start a program of education and enforcement with fishermen.  

Please click here to view Heysham Bass Nursery Area Chartlet


NWIFCA Text Alerts - 1 May 2013

The NWIFCA is planning to implement a new way of communicating with our stakeholders using text messaging. Stakeholders who have given their mobile phone numbers will receive occasional texts, alerting them to useful information about particular fisheries, stakeholder meetings, or inviting them to engage in NWIFCA consultations.

If you would like to be contacted in this way, please send your name, phone number and, if relevant, any NWIFCA Byelaw permit numbers you hold to Alternatively you can phone the office directly with the information.

The NWIFCA will only use your phone number to communicate with you regarding fisheries matters and other relevant marine issues. We will NOT share your information with any other organisations. 


The IFCA Vision is to lead, champion and manage a sustainable marine environment and inshore fisheries, by successfully securing the right balance between social, environmental and economic benefits to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry.


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