The RYA says it has received only 85 reports since it launched its online fishing entanglement form and more is needed if the Government is to take action
The RYA is urging boaters to report all incidents of fishing gear entanglement around the UK coastline.
It says a lack of data could jeopardise attempts to get gear properly marked.
In May, the RYA launched an online form to encourage the reporting of entanglements and sightings of badly marked fishing gear.
But, since then, only 58 entanglements and 27 observations have been reported despite considerable anecdotal evidence that incidents occur much more frequently.
The appeal comes after the Cruising Association (CA) launched a petition urging the Government to take action to make lobster pots safer for small vessels.
So far, just over 4,220 people have signed the petition: 10,000 need to sign in order for the Government to respond.
The RYA said data is essential to support negotiations on improving the visibility of static fishing gear, and it is relying on boaters to report incidents.
It is worried that unless the CA petition is backed by data, the Government might dismiss the campaign, believing it to just be an emotive subject.
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The RYA cruising manager, Stuart Carruthers, said without hard evidence of the safety risk unmarked fishing gear causes, the situation won’t change.
“For many years the RYA has been concerned by reports of boaters who have experienced fouled propellers and entanglement with sea-fishing gear such as nets, pots and associated markers, flags and lines,” he said.
“While fishing equipment cannot be charted, we believe that it should be properly marked so that it is visible by both day and night. This will avoid damage to small craft and the loss of fishing gear for the fishermen,” explained Carruthers.
“We are pleased that the Cruising Association is encouraging boaters to complete the RYA online form. We have had direct discussions with DEFRA and MMO who have made it clear that they would need solid evidence clearly demonstrating that the safety risk and/or cost of poorly marked fishing gear is unacceptable before they consider taking action,” stated the cruising manager.
He stressed that discussing the issue on forums and social media would not provide the evidence needed.
“To demonstrate that it is as significant as the concerns that people voice, we need boaters who have spotted poorly marked gear or experienced an entanglement to complete the form,” stressed Carruthers.
“Please don’t leave it to the boat next door; if you have an entanglement, report it. Observation reports will also help improve the heat map of hot spot areas around the coast that boaters should be aware of,” he continued.
“We have a well-developed relationship with Government and its agencies. Through this and with better data, we continue to seek better regulation for marking and improved enforcement action for those who ignore the law,” added Carruthers.