Angling Trust Recommended Voluntary Bait Collecting Code Of Conduct
For Non Professional Bait Diggers
1. Observe local byelaws, regulations and access arrangements which affect the use of the coast, or access to permanently and seasonally closed areas.
• Check the local situation before collecting bait in unfamiliar areas, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
• Contact your local IFCA for details of byelaws and regulations.
• Keep to paths, agreed access routes, remember to close gates and respect other coast users at all times – always remember that others judge bait collecting by your behaviour.
2. Collect bait sustainably.
• Collect only what you need for personal use by yourself, family or friends – but not for sale.
• Do not dig-out an area – leave adult organisms to repopulate the area.
• Avoid damaging other animals in the sediment or under rocks/tiles
• Store your bait correctly to reduce wastage
• Do not take green spawning ragworms or king ragworms less than 100mm.
• Return any live, unused bait to the habitat from which you collected it.
3. Back fill holes for safety, and to maintain the intertidal habitat.
• Backfilling ensures the foreshore recovers more quickly and prevents organisms from suffocating under spoil mounds
• Backfilling reduces the evidence of bait digging and leaves the habitat looking in a more natural condition.
• Backfilling also prevents accidents and injury to yourself, other bait collectors and other foreshore users.
• Backfilling prevents hazardous and toxic substances being released that may have been trapped in the sediment.
• Backfilling helps to protect other marine life that has been disturbed from being eaten by birds.
• The use of a bait pump, where the ground permits, can reduce the disturbance to habitats and species and removes the need for backfilling.
4. Be aware of local hazards and conditions.
• Tell someone where you intend to dig.
• Strong tidal currents, deep sand or mud and unfamiliar surroundings can cause difficulties – always carry a mobile phone and compass for emergencies.
• Tell someone what time you intend to return and contact them if you are delayed – it could save them from calling the emergency services.
5. Avoid disturbing wildlife wherever possible.
• Disturbing over-wintering birds can prevent them from feeding and roosting and can waste the energy they need for migration.
• Ground nesting birds may lose their eggs if they are disturbed from their nests.
• Avoid disturbing seals or other marine mammals in their haul-outs.
• Avoid trampling on plants and animals so that other people can enjoy them.
• Do not dig in sea (eel) grass beds. Sea grass beds are considered to be of significant importance as a habitat for a number of species and are designated for protection within a number of proposed marine conservation zones.
6. Replace all rocks and stones as you found them, seaweed side up.
• Take care not to crush wildlife when turning boulders over.
• Many intertidal animals and plants are specially adapted to living under rocks and boulders. Make sure you return boulders as you found them so that these organisms can survive.
7. Do not dig around moorings, slipways and sea walls.
• Existing harbour byelaws often prohibit digging for health and safety reasons.
• The combined effects of tides, waves and digging may undermine walls and allow moorings to shift.
• Digging around fixed structures can often cause conflict with other shore users, property owners and harbour authorities.
8. Take all your litter home.
• Manmade litter causes extensive damage to the marine environment. Synthetic materials degrade very slowly and may threaten marine life for decades.
• Litter is an eyesore that spoils the coast for everyone.
• Wherever possible, be a responsible angler and collect and remove any angling debris, such as discarded fishing line.