Fisheries are a very important part of Cardigan Bay, providing a livelihood for local commercial fishing and angling vessels and characterising coastal towns and villages. Wildlife watching and fishing activities are increasingly popular, attracting many visitors to the Bay and generating valuable income for surrounding communities.
Without healthy fish stocks, one of the main SAC features, the bottlenose dolphin could not live in the Bay. Many of the fishing boats working in the Cardigan Bay SAC are small, inshore vessels; mostly potting for lobster, crab and prawn. Several byelaws are in place to protect these species, including minimum sizes, catch limits for non-commercial fishers and the protection of ‘v’ notched lobsters. A small amount of netting takes place with seasonal catches of bass, mullet, spider crab, dogfish, turbot and herring. There are no commercial cockle or mussel fisheries within the SAC. Boat and shore anglers catch a variety of species including tope, black bream, dogfish, mackerel, turbot, whiting and pollack. From November, over the winter months, scallop dredging takes place, with large vessels mainly working offshore. Regulations are in place limiting areas and time of year that scallop dredging can take place in Cardigan Bay. These restrictions protect reef features and help to minimise gear conflict between potting and scallop dredging vessels.
The main fishing seasons are during spring, summer and autumn. Winter months and bad weather severely limit fishing effort, preventing smaller vessels from working and damaging fishing gear.
Fisheries management in Cardigan Bay is regulated by Welsh Government.
In the revised Management Scheme fishery actions will continue the work of monitoring fisheries, enforcing byelaws and promoting awareness of minimum sizes and good codes of practice. Fishermen and anglers will be encouraged to record unusual catch or sightings.
With regard to offshore fisheries, the revised Management Scheme identifies an action to work towards an international regulatory system that will ensure a sustainable management regime to safeguard the future of Irish fish stocks.