Fishing: Ministry Reduces Allowed Bait Net Size

June 24, 2013

The Department of Environmental Protection today [June 24] advised registered fishermen that there has been a change in the size of bait nets permitted to be used in Harrington Sound and Flatts Inlet. The 18-ft restriction has been reduced to 12-ft.

On June 21, 2013, the Minister of Environment & Planning Sylvan Richards published the Fisheries Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2013, which restricts the depth of a bait net that can be used in Harrington Sound and Flatts Inlet to 12 feet. This is a significant reduction from the previously permitted depth of 18 feet, and the shorter nets should allow more fish to escape.

The Minister said, “This measure has been put in place in an effort to reduce the impact of fishing on bait species, such as herring, anchovies, ‘fry’ and half-beaks, which gather in these areas, and is part of the Department’s Bait Species Management Plan, which was drafted in consultation with key stakeholders.”

Landings statistics collected by the Department of Environmental Protection have shown a declining trend for some species of bait fish around Bermuda, in particular anchovies and herring.

Dr. Tammy Trott, Senior Marine Resources Officer for the Department said: “The apparent decline in the abundance of some bait species is a concern as these species are a critical component of the marine food web.

“Many larger fish, birds and marine mammals rely on bait species as their main source of prey. Therefore, if the populations of the bait fish decline then the populations of the species that feed on them may also decline.”

This recent amendment builds on other measures aimed at the protection of bait species, namely: sites closed to netting of any kind [i.e. Coot Pond, Whalebone Bay, Shelly Bay and Somerset Long Bay], and the restriction of recreational fishers to the use of 8 foot diameter cast nets only.

“All fishers, commercial and recreational, are encouraged to adhere to the Fisheries legislation for catching bait fish and to take these fish sparingly,” a spokesperson said.

Dr. Fred Ming, Director of Environmental Protection said, “There have been complaints made to the Department that some fishermen are taking whole schools of bait. We are asking for the cooperation of these and all fishermen in taking bait in moderation. This will help to sustain the bait fish populations for generations to come.”

Fishers are also advised that the only fish permitted to be caught in nets are bait fish [i.e. herring, anchovies, “fry” and half beaks], jacks [except pompano], mackerel, yellowtail snappers over 30cm/12ins, and flying fish. All other fish captured must be released back into the ocean immediately.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Y-girl says:

    Can anyone answer me this?

    Visitors to the island always comment how sad it is that the restaurants carry so little local fish, and I know I jump on the non frozen local fish when I am at the supermarket, it tastes so much better.

    So I understand the issue is ecology, and I get that, even though we have so much water and so few people....anyway, why doesn't the Government operate a few boats that can be regulated so we dont overfish, but can give the island fantastic, affordable fresh fish?

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    • Lebron says:

      I just went to Supermart. It's been amazing fishing conditions, and they have lots of fish - snapper, rockfish, tuna, wahoo. None of it caught in Bermuda, all imported and all absurdly expensive. The guy on the counter said they've had nothing in this week, that is ridiculous.

      We need to change our diet and that comes from above, can we effect change here?

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  2. I believe an alternative would be to breed fish in tanks, like them at the aquarium. Build them along the coastline, this'll allow the tides to flow to and fro... This way of raising fish locally will also(should) lower the price and there'll be an abundance of local fish on the market i.e. in the restaurants and in the supermarkets...

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  3. Sigh. says:

    To the above comment, aquaculture is what you're referring to. I as well as others do not agree with this practice because it causes a trickle down effect in the food chains AND wild populations of targeted fish species (treating fish with antibiotics preventing disease, feeding them, fish can escape etc.) Plus it takes away from the natural beauty of the landscape. Yes it is a good idea for increasing the amount of fish for food purposes, but the long term effects are far more important to consider. Any scientists would know exactly what I am talking about here.

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  4. Redman says:

    ‘The Department of Environmental Protection today [June 24] advised registered fishermen that there has been a change in the size of bait nets permitted to be used in Harrington Sound and Flatts Inlet. The 18-ft restriction has been reduced to 12-ft’.

    With so little in the way of enforcement this is likely to be just more wasted ink really; I mean how often do Fisheries patrol these areas and are they really going to measure nets of fishermen whom they find/suspect of hauling in these areas?

    If over fishing by netting of Bait Fishes (particularly from hauling nets) is a problem and the Dept. is receiving complaints of ‘whole beds of bait being taken’ why not reduce hauling net sizes even more, reduce their depth, length and even mesh size, step up patrols/enforcement and then close off additional areas to Net Hauling where bait is known to aggregate and spawn particularly the grassy bays. Cast Netting could still be allowed with some bays being restricted to casting from the shoreline only (though I admit this would be hard to enforce). In the Eastern End of the Island the current restricted areas such as Coot Pond, Whale Bone Bay and now (I believe) the Bays around the new wildlife sanctuary of Coopers Island and Clear Water Beach?? are fine But any inclement weather makes Shelly Bay a throw back when you put it up against other places like Harrington Sound and Flatts inlet, Bay Corner and parts of Ferry Reach for holding bait for long periods. How about adding those two and other areas like Emily's Bay, Great Bay and Smith Island Sound plus Cocoa Bay including around both Oswego and Little Oswego Islands, convict bay and Hen Island?!

    Not only are the bait fish like fry and anchovies and Pilchards being pushed out of existence due to over fishing and no doubt pollution what about the by-catch of juvenile fish such as yellow-tail and grey Snappers, Grunts and all types of Parrot Fish to name a few? Harrington Sound in particular should be given serious consideration as an inshore marine sanctuary/reserve of some description. Net Hauling should not be permitted in any of those previously mentioned areas.

    Take Bay Corner for example you could use an imaginary line from the little mermaid by the Hollis’s property at the mouth of the bay, following across to Bay Islands Northern Eastern Shoreline all the way along to the Western Shoreline in Crawl; this would ensure a size-able area where bait does gather and spawn seasonally is protected ‘for future generations’. Another area would be from the midway point of the Causeway where the lay by was constructed across to say Stone Crusher Corner, continuing across to the Ferry Reach Shoreline this area would include all of the Western portion of Ferry Reach right out to the Pylons and Coney Island right around to Baileys Bay Club, Blue hole and across Grotto Bay Resorts Shoreline. In Castle Harbour it could include the shoreline from Blue Hole Hill Park Southwards across to and including all Bays up to the Government Quarry.
    The recreational fisherman and casts nets are clearly not blameless here but when it comes to the ability to ‘taking whole beds of bait’ then cast nets are no match for hauling nets. As mentioned By Dr. Ming hauling nets can and do remove whole beds of bait. Plus numerous amounts of by-catch but cast nets would take weeks and or months to do the same as after a cast or two the bait is off and moving … and fast, not so with hauling nets as once the bait has been encompassed by these for the most part that is all she wrote!.

    D.O.E. -‘This recent amendment builds on other measures aimed at the protection of bait species, namely: sites closed to netting of any kind [i.e. Coot Pond, Whalebone Bay, Shelly Bay and Somerset Long Bay], and the restriction of recreational fishers to the use of 8 foot diameter cast nets only’.

    Oh Please Spare Me!! Restricting recreational fishers to 4' cast nets while not reducing the size and banning some hauling nets mesh size shows just where the D.O.E.'s head is... right up the fisherman's butts. Considering that Dr. Ming mentions later in the article how 'whole beds' of bait have been taken by Net Haulers and they have known this for years what did they do??? Restrict the size of cast nets (Shakes Head. If the existing and future fish stocks around Bermuda are a resource that should be being managed for the majority (for all of us) I have to say that this is too little too late and is beyond a joke. While respecting the netters and fishermen who are trying to make a living by hauling/fishing the D.E.O.'s role should be in managing the resource for all and not just the few, sadly this is not what we see (feel) is happening on this matter and this amendment looks like a p*ss poor example of a compromise deal on behalf of the D.O.E. because though any restrictions on the size of nets and adding hauling restrictions to areas like Flatts Inlet and Harrington Sound are a good thing more should be being done in the way of restricting net hauling in other areas as well but sadly the stakeholders that they have ‘consulted’ double lol (obviously mostly Fishermen) are sure not going to suggest that the D.O.E close off and or restrict more of their favourite and more productive areas now are they?!

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