The economic position
Sea fisheries are worth in the region of £20 million to the Isle of Man's economy. Seafood such as king and queen scallops and whelks are exported all over the world, putting the Island on the map, and ensuring the fishery forms an important part of the Island's move towards a distinctive food and drink industry.
Sea fisheries also contribute to other government policy initiatives, such as Future Fisheries Strategy (the 5 year strategy to develop sustainable sea fisheries and protect the marine environment), Manx food business development and improved food security for the Island.
The Isle of Man’s territorial seas
The Isle of Man’s territorial seas extend to 12 nautical miles or some 1500 square miles / 4000 square kilometres (87% of the total ‘territory’ of the Isle of Man).
The Island has sole jurisdiction within its 0-3 mile limit for fisheries management. However, the 2012 Fisheries Management Agreement requires DEFA to consult with UK authorities before any new fisheries management measures can be introduced in the 3 to 12 mile limit.
The Fisheries Management Agreement allows Manx vessels open access to UK waters and likewise UK vessels have access to Manx waters. There are also some areas within our territorial waters where fishing vessels of France, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland can currently fish because of the 1964 London Fisheries Convention, this agreement was made before the Island secured its territorial waters in 1991. However, the UK has recently announced its withdrawal from this Convention, to coincide with when the UK leaves the EU.
There are currently in the region of 65 vessels in the Manx commercial fishing fleet.
The Fisheries Act 2012 grants powers to DEFA to regulate fishing activity within the Island’s territorial sea. The Department may by regulation impose prohibitions or restrictions to fishing activity.
These regulations may:
- Prohibit fishing for sea fish or for any specified description of sea fish by any specified method or at any specified time
- Restrict the quantity of any specified description of sea fish
- Restrict or prohibit any method of fishing
- Prohibit the retention of fish below a specified size
- Restrict or prohibit the type or number of vessels that may fish within the Island’s territorial waters
When new regulations or amendments to existing regulations are required interested parties are consulted and the regulation is brought before Tynwald for approval.
There are a number of regulations in place controlling fishing activities within the Island’s territorial sea.
Any breaches of regulation made under the Fisheries Act 2012 are heard by a court of summary jurisdiction. Penalties may be a fine of up to £50 000, forfeiture of catch, boat and or gear, the court may also upon conviction disqualify a person from holding a fishing licence.