Update 3 October 2019:
Members will recall that following the Cruising Association’s successful petition, video, and campaign, a multiagency committee has been convened under the auspices of the UK Safety of Navigation Committee chaired by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
This body has representation from ourselves and the RYA, The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the Association of IFCAs, and various government agencies. As previously reported, the Terms of Reference cover all the issues that might be of concern to our members.
A survey of all the organisations (and there are quite a few of them across the four nations of the UK) who have regulatory powers is being conducted, by the MCA, asking them about their experience of the use of those powers. The Cruising Association has taken on the job of collating the results. That work will be considered at the next meeting (they only happen every six months) which will be in March 2020.
No decision has been taken, but it certainly looks as if new voluntary guidance, replacing the older MCA guidance of 2008, will then be produced. It is important that this is informed by an up to date view of the science and technology now available, so we are also taking the lead on looking at the technical options not only with regard to design of surface gear, but also the different ways in which information can be provided about the location of the lobster/crab/whelk pot hazard.
The price of securing multiagency commitment, albeit limited to two meetings per year, is that this work can only move slowly. We remain concerned that every season that passes without change, is a season in which somebody may be maimed or killed.
Update 17 January 2019:
New Working Group formed to tackle lobster pot hazard
Multi-agency task force set to review small craft fishing gear entanglements
Following previous work by the RYA coupled with the campaign and petition pursued by the Cruising Association, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has convened the first meeting of the Lobster Pots and Small Craft Safety working group.
The meeting resulted in a multi-stakeholder consensus that existing approaches to fishing gear marking and hazard reduction needs to be reviewed and new approaches explored in the interests of small craft safety.
The relevant government agencies, The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and the Cruising Association have agreed to work together to better understand the causes of small craft entanglement and to develop solutions based on best practice in the UK and elsewhere, and to support innovative development.
Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, explains: "Poorly marked fishing gear that poses a hazard to navigation because it cannot be readily seen has been a major concern for the RYA and for recreational boaters for many years. Through this newly established working group we will continue to seek better ways for avoiding entanglement and improved enforcement action for those who ignore the law."
Julian Dussek, President of the Cruising Association, wholeheartedly welcomed the formation of this group, with its ambitious Terms of Reference. He adds: "We very much hope that our petition, video and campaign has created the impetus for action and we are delighted to have already found so much goodwill and common ground with our partners."
The Working Group has prioritised its tasks and intends to meet again in the coming months once it has established the regulatory baseline and had time to assess the effectiveness of existing powers across the whole of the UK.
Left to right: Ian Wilson (Cruising Association), Gwilym Stone (MCA), Robert Greenwood (National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations), Michael Coyle (MMO), and Stuart Carruthers (RYA) at the first working group meeting at CA House on 16 January 2019.
Update 9 August:
The Cruising Association welcomes positive steps from the Scottish Government & Marine Scotland in the campaign for better marking of creel/lobster pots
We are delighted that the Scottish Government has now decided to take steps towards the better marking of creel/lobster pots and also towards making unlicensed fishermen more identifiable for the purposes of enforcement.
When our RATS (Regulations and Technical Services) Committee submitted its comments during their 'Gear Conflict' consultation in 2016/7 RATS said, amongst other things: 'We believe that marker buoys and floats not only reduce accidental gear conflict but also have a role to play in reducing accidental entanglement of propeller shafts and rudders of non-fishing vessels such as cruising yachts and other recreational craft. The size of the buoy is significant not only for visual identification at a sufficient distance to take avoiding action, but also in providing sufficient buoyancy to maximise deflection should there be contact with a passing vessel.'
We therefore welcomes the very clear wording of the Marine Scotland response to the consultation: It is clear that some fishermen are marking gear using inappropriate equipment that result in poor visibility and/or poorly secured marking equipment. Marine Scotland will therefore introduce regulations which will ban the use of equipment not manufactured for the purpose of marking fishing gear. This will outlaw the use of objects such as plastic milk cartons and netted footballs.
We know that the fishermen’s organisation such as NFFO (National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations) and SCFF (Scottish Creel Fishermen's Federation) have been pressing for action against unlicensed fishermen who may have a vested interest in using very small pot markers and support them in that and therefore welcomes the proposal to also introduce regulations requiring all unlicensed fishermen to mark their gear with a unique reference number which will be issued on request by the local Marine Scotland Fishery Office. The regulations will also require licensed fishermen to mark their gear with the PLN.
Our well-regarded campaign about this issue of maritime safety continues. RATS members are in discussion with the civil service as to the next steps and will also be reporting back to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries who have shown a supportive interest.
The Marine Scotland Response to the Consultation on Draft Proposals for Requirements for Static Gear Deployed within 12 Nautical Miles of Scottish Baselines Executive Summary is available to read here.
Update 21 March:
Cruising Association praises constructive Government response
The Cruising Association (CA) has welcomed the Government response to its petition 'Lobster Pots and Small Craft Safety - time to change the rules!' which recently closed with 10,770 signatures.
"This signals change, and for the better. Government is now ‘looking at areas in which the enforcement of regulations can be enhanced’ but is also open to, and interested in, the identification of other potential solutions," commented Judith Grimwade, Cruising Association President.
The Cruising Association campaign, which has gathered support not only from the boating community but also from a wide-ranging group of stakeholders, will continue. In particular, the CA will press for the setting up of a consultative body which brings all of the stakeholders together, including the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, preferably under the auspices of one of the government agencies.
The Cruising Association's Campaign video, introduced by Tom Cunliffe, can be viewed here
Update 13 March:
Magnificent response to CA Lobster Pot Campaign Petition from UK boating community
The Cruising Association campaign to improve small craft safety by securing the better marking of lobster pots, goes from strength to strength. The petition, on the Parliamentary Petitions website, closed at midnight with 10,770 signatures.
Having successfully passed the 10,000 mark, there is now a requirement upon the Government to give a written reply.
The Cruising Association President, Judith Grimwade, commented: "We believe we have established that something needs to be done about badly marked gear and that the wider boating community strongly supports what the CA is trying to do."
"Our view is that constructive consultation including all interested parties is the way to find a solution that is practical and affordable for our fishermen. We are looking to the Government to sponsor and support that consultation. We are not naïve and don't expect instant answers. All along we have said we are in this for the long haul."
The CA will now be pressing for the consultation that the petition demanded. The strong relationships that have been built up with the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, British Ports Authority, and many other stakeholders during the campaign will be sustained and increase the likelihood of finding a long-term solution.
The CA knows that there are many such incidents, but acknowledges that it now needs to convince those beyond the boating community. The Cruising Association's Campaign video, introduced by Tom Cunliffe, can be viewed here.
Update 13 January:
Tom Cunliffe launched the CA's new Lobster Pot Campaign video at the London Boat Show today.
You can watch the video here.
We hope the video will persuade yet more people to sign up to our petition.
Update 30 November:
Lobster pot update: download our poster
After the hiatus of the spring General Election, we were at last able to repost our petition on the marking of static fishing gear, and it went live during the Southampton Boat Show. The race is on to get 10,000 signatures before we have to close on 12 March 2018.
We have been mailing sailing clubs with details, offering them a specially designed poster, which you can download here. If you support our campaign, please see if your local club, marina or anywhere you can think of with a noticeboard or window display would be willing to put the poster up.
Behind the scenes, we are busy talking to various stakeholders, including the fishing community of course. We’re pleased that stakeholders, including the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, are collaborating with the CA to find a solution. We know there’s no quick fix, but we’re in it for the long haul.
- carry on reporting incidents to us via email@example.com and go to the link to fill in the new RYA form
- sign the petition even if you did so last spring , as votes can’t be carried over, and encourage everyone you know to do the same
Update 12 September:
CA Lobster pots campaign – the petition is live!
A petition launched by the Cruising Association to make marking of lobster pots safer is again live after it was shut down by the Government until after the General Election.
The CA’s petition obviously hit a nerve with the boating public as not only did the petition receive nearly 6,000 signatures in two weeks but the CA has received hundreds of e-mails from people in the UK and worldwide telling of their experiences. Not only were boats severely damaged – some unrecoverable – but hundreds of lives were put at risk when their boats became entangled in the lobster pot tethers.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in the CA’s safety campaign which is backed by CA patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Yachting Monthly.
If you support the CA’s campaign, please:
- sign the petition – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200001 - even if you had already done so, as previous votes can’t be carried over
- carry on reporting incidents to us via firstname.lastname@example.org, and go to the link to fill in the new RYA form
- tell your friends, family and club members about what we are trying to do
It’s time to change the rules for safety’s sake.
Further details are in the CA Newsletter lobster pot special.
Update from 26 April:
Lobster pot petition entangled in election preparations
We have been told that all petitions on the government website will close at 1am on 3 May because of election purdah. While we will be able to post our petition again following the election, the votes cannot be transferred, so we must begin all over again.
Our campaign for better marking of lobster pots and fishing gear has received an enthusiastic response from sailing folk and the stories are pouring in for our evidence base. We have had a most encouraging reply from the Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations offering to work with us. The number of signatories as at 26 April stands at 5389. We have clearly struck a chord.
We said we were in this for the long haul, so we will certainly be reposting our petition as quickly as we can. We’ll let you know as soon as it is live and hope you will sign it again and once more encourage friends, family and other contacts to do the same. Watch this space!
Original news from 12 April:
Join our campaign to make lobster pot markers safer for small craft.
Some of you may have read the letter our President, Judith Grimwade, sent to Yachting Monthly on the subject of lobster pots and fishing gear and the way it is marked. They awarded her a prize!
Poorly marked lobster pots and fishing gear are the most difficult and unpredictable hazard facing coastal cruising people.
Fishermen, too, report the loss of expensive gear as a result of entanglements. These encounters could even be life-threatening. In one year alone the RNLI dealt with 295 incidents of fouled propellers. Most CA members say they would try to sort the problem out themselves so this could be a fraction of the actual number. One lifeboat station said 25% of their call-outs were purely from boats caught up in fishing gear.
We think it is time for everybody with an interest to work together to find a solution, particularly one that is cheap and practical for our fishermen. With this aim, the CA hopes to secure a government consultation about the effectiveness of the current guidance and the merits of enforceable regulations for the whole of the UK.
The MCA tells us that the same issue was raised at recent meeting of the UK Safety of Navigation committee. RATS member, John Lansdell and Ian Wilson will attend the next meeting of UKSON in May.
The CA has posted a petition on the No 10 website and hope you will sign it and encourage others to do so. We have the support of our patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and are canvassing other stakeholders and the yachting press.
Please tell your friends and family about our campaign and get them to sign. If you have personal experience of this problem, please let us know. We are keen to build a body of evidence to support the campaign for change. Email: email@example.com