Bay fishing ban blow

PUBLISHED: 16:07 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:15 10 June 2010

GOVERNMENT bosses have permanently closed a large part of Lyme Bay and banned scallop fishing in the area, leaving local fishermen fretful over their livelihoods. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that scallop dr

GOVERNMENT bosses have permanently closed a large part of Lyme Bay and banned scallop fishing in the area, leaving local fishermen fretful over their livelihoods.The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that scallop dredgers and bottom trawlers, which drag nets along the seabed, would be banned from West Bay to Beer Head from this month.The move has led to an outcry by fishermen.Harry Green, an Exmouth fisherman who owns the Beccy G, said: "It means we have to go further afield and it is going to be dangerous fishing in North Wales."It is going to be affecting everyone - engineers, refits, painters, computer people, everyone."Gerald Statham, an Exmouth fisherman and owner of Winters Tale, said: "We are just trying to live."We will now have to be away from home for weeks or we can't pay our mortgage."Fishing using nets nearer the surface will still be allowed, as will diving for scallops, scuba diving and sea angling, however this would mean converting their boats to other uses, which is very expensive.Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: "Lyme Bay is one of Britain's richest marine environments, and the measures we have announced will protect the reefs and the wildlife that depend on them from the most damaging fishing methods. The Exmouth fishermen, who will now have to go travel to Wales, away from home for weeks at a time, have questioned the validity of this move by the government believing the sea bed is not at risk.Professor Michel Kaiser, of the University of Wales-Bangor and Chair of Defra's Marine Stakeholder Forum explained that two years ago DEFRA and the fishermen were working together to restrict fishing to protect sea fans in the area but, because of the expansion of the conservation area to include pink sea fans, sunset cup corals, and several rare sponges the ban was 'inevitable'.The marine expert said: "It is inevitable but it is a little disappointing to see that the fishing industry was allowed to build false expectations."This type of bottom trawling is not compatible with the protection of the sea bed - it is a threat to marine life."The long term impact of the ban on local industries dependant on fishermen and restaurants, which may see a shortage of scallops, is still unclear.

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