In the UK, there are several ways you can get arrested for fisheries violations that you couldn’t have imagined existed. For instance, if you are found fishing ormers outside the allowed timelines, you could go to jail because as it stands, fishermen only have 20 days per year to collect the ormers.
- Ormer collection is only allowed on certain days – usually, those of new moon, full moon, and 2 days following, between New Year and end of April every year.
- People are only allowed to collect ormers that are at least 3 In (8cm).
- When collecting, you can’t be fully or partially submerged, or use any diving suit, snorkel, or breathing equipment.
- Once collected they can’t be stored unpreserved for over 2 days after the permitted 20 days, with preserved meaning pickled or cooked, but shouldn’t be deep-frozen.
- You need permission from the Sea Fisheries to export ormers
- Breaching any of the rules can lead to 6 months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine.
UK fishermen are constantly reminded to comply with the regulations to preserve the ormers. Ormers are the most popular type of shellfish today, also known as abalone, a term that’s often used by TV chefs, ormers are a great delicacy but the challenge lies in catching it because it often inhibits the extreme regions of the Guernsey water channel and the only time they can be fished is during low tides.
In Japan, they are called awabi, perlemoen by South Africans, and pau by new Zealanders, and abalone in California.
Ormers, as the seafood is known in the UK, are highly sought after both locally and internationally and are considered one of the most delicious culinary treats the sea has to offer.
Ormers have a greenish-black mantle and tough flesh and then prised out of the shells, beaten, trimmed, and scrubbed with a mallet then fried with onions and flour and casseroled for 3 or 4 hours in an oven, they are very delicious.
More of meat than fish; they are often accompanied by white wine and crusty fresh bread.
Currently, the Fisheries Resources that policies Guernsey fishing grounds have already asked fishermen to resist the temptations of collecting ormers during specific times of the year.
Senior fisheries said the main reasons for the fishing regulations and minimum sizes are to protect the available stocks. Although the low water fishing is a superb activity, it’s important for them to avoid the ormers.
Although there are no specific limits to the size of a single catch and with no recommended daily limit, they can only be gathered on specific dates between January and April and for 2 days after the lunar phase. Diving for the ormers any other period is strictly prohibited and can land you in jail.
Besides the ormers, razorfish, prairies, clams, lobsters, and crabs are also very popular among the recreational low-water fisherfolk.
Fishermen are only allowed to collect a small number of these species to ensure the ormers reach the required age for reproduction and to keep the fisheries stocked – something that has been fully explained by the leaflets made by the Fisheries Department.
Researchers have said that taking an ormer only 2 mm under the minimum allowed size of 8cm down the head might have a serious impact on breeding. They have also said that if people start giving excuses that the catch is only a few millimeters undersize, these millimeters make a huge difference for the stock with regards to the ormers reproduction and eggs released. The researchers emphasize that it’s important to give these creatures a chance to properly breed.
Increased Demand On Social Media Risks Ormers Numbers
Although there are restrictions on when and how ormers are collected and limits on the size, there are no restrictions to the numbers. As a result, the creatures might be at risk because of the many people that are profiting from collecting them.
Deputy Barry Paint strongly believes the sales of ormers should be completely banned to help protect the stocks. The Sea Fisheries department has recently said it’s monitoring the impact this has on stocks.
Chris Morris, a senior officer says that the increase in online sales isn’t a surprise because it was an easy and fast way to sell ormers.
He further said over the past few tides, they are seeing more people collecting on the first tide, selling, collecting on the 2nd tide, selling and collecting on the third tide.
Barry believed the quick money people are making from selling ormers online might encourage them to collect more than they need and might damage the stock.
Chris says any sale of the ormers is a commercial enterprise and if the online sales increase, it can quickly become unsustainable.
He further added that Sea Fisheries monitors the catches taken around the English Channel island of Guernsey.
Mr. Chris also said it is about finding the right balance of preserving the creature’s life and also protecting the marine environment and ormers numbers. He further added that there are some people that gather ormers and they don’t especially like ormers themselves, but they go to nursing homes and just give them up. The officer said that they do not want to pass laws that might stop such charitable works.
Besides the UK, fishing for ormers is now banned or restricted in different parts of the world mainly because of overfishing. For instance, on the west coast of the United States, ormers populations have steeply declined and today, commercial fishing isn’t allowed in many areas.
Today, the biggest consumers of ormers are China and Japan, which consumes around 50 tonnes per day.
Miller, N. (n.d.). The UK seafood that could send you to jail. BBCpage. https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20210303-the-uk-seafood-that-could-send-you-to-jail
In search of Britain’s forgotten seafood delicacy. (2018, September 9). delicious. magazine. https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/in-search-of-britains-forgotten-seafood-delicacy/
Global warming brings new cash crop for fishermen. (2018, February 14). the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/dec/10/food.fish