INTERNATIONALLY important marine areas around the Isle of Wight are now being protected — thanks to new bye-laws introduced by the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA).
The new fisheries and conservation rules have been put in place this week to protect sensitive reef and seagrass features in the coastal waters of the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset.
The bye-laws cover 25 per cent of those coastal waters and manage a total of 670km of seabed. The first bans trawling and dredging in small areas off the south Wight whilst the second bars cockle picking, prawning and bait collectors digging for worms and other bait in seagrass beds.
The IFCA says that the new laws will protect important fish and shellfish nursery areas and will benefit both commercial and recreational fishermen. The laws have been introduced following a consultation exercise.
Robert Clark, the chief officer of the Southern IFCA said: "Our coastal fisheries are very important and the introduction of these byelaws and the support and participation of community in their development is a significant milestone in the sustainable management of our coastal waters.
"These new bye-laws protect important habitats and it is these habitats that support our important coastal fisheries."
He said the new bye-laws would have no impact on holiday-makers digging and playing on the beach.
The new bye-laws can be viewed on the IFCA website.