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.