Inshore fisheries policy

Northern Ireland's inshore fisheries are managed by the Sea Fisheries Policy Branch.

Inshore fisheries management

The management of Northern Ireland's inshore fisheries comprises  fishing vessels that target mostly shellfish such as brown crab, velvet crab, lobster, palaemon  prawn and nephrops by potting. Responsibility also extends to scallop and queen scallop fisheries within the inshore region.

Northern Ireland Inshore Fisheries - Delivering a Sustainable Future

In March 2014, the Department published a report on the 2013 consultation on inshore fisheries management.

The consultation was undertaken to inform the Department of stakeholder’s opinions on policy development over a five-year period and covered subjects such as the key challenges facing the inshore sector; fisheries management; monitoring and enforcement; data collection; sustainability; and, diversification.

Based on the consultation findings, the Department has produced an inshore fisheries strategy (“Northern Ireland Inshore Fisheries: Delivering a Sustainable Future”) that provides a strategic focus for the inshore sector.

Key proposals

The key proposals within the strategy are:

  • the formation of an Inshore Fisheries Partnership Group to increase stakeholder participation in management decisions and their involvement in promoting the long-term sustainability of inshore fisheries
  • greater use of technology to allow better mapping of fishing activities and areas, improved monitoring and control
  • addressing data gaps on key inshore stocks and species

Strategy for delivering a sustainable future

The strategy proposes to address the challenges facing the inshore sector through a number of key themes and work streams, namely

  • governance through partnership
  • data for decision making
  • effective compliance
  • improving information, communication and technology
  • enhancing economic returns
  • safer fisheries

View the inshore strategy report

You can view DARD's response to the consultation, Northern Ireland Inshore Fisheries: Delivering a Sustainable Future.

Recreational sea angling in Northern Ireland

As part of the Department’s  work in progressing an inshore fisheries strategy, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) launched an online survey seeking stakeholder opinion on recreational sea angling in Northern Ireland.  

The survey focused on the fishing habits of recreational sea anglers, the locations fished and species targeted.  

Strangford Lough

Strangford Lough is one of Northern Ireland's Natura 2000 sites, along with other sites such as Rathlin Island. As such, responsibility for regulation of fisheries falls to the Sea Fisheries Policy Branch.

The Strangford Lough (Sea Fishing Exclusion Zones) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Strangford Lough (Sea Fishing Exclusion Zones) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 came into operation on 8 January 2013.

These regulations, which revoke and replace the earlier regulations implemented in 2011, offer total protection to communities of Horse Mussel (Modiolus Modiolus) from sea fishing.  No sea fishing by any sea fishing boat within two specified zones is permitted below a depth of 10 meter chart datum. These restrictions do not prevent fishing by rod and line.

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