Exe clear-up

PUBLISHED: 02:01 02 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:06 10 June 2010

AN Exmouth shell-fisherman is successfully challenging the view that the industry harms the environment - after beginning a crusade to rid the Exe Estuary of tonnes of junk. Just this month alone, Exmouth Mussels, one of the top shell fish suppliers in th

AN Exmouth shell-fisherman is successfully challenging the view that the industry harms the environment - after beginning a crusade to rid the Exe Estuary of tonnes of junk.Just this month alone, Exmouth Mussels, one of the top shell fish suppliers in the area, which operates from The Pierhead, has spent tens-of-thousands of pounds of their own money in removing five tonnes of junk from the estuary bed.Scrap including lost commercial fishing gear, old nets and pots, crab tiles, abandoned oyster racks - and scores of old tyres - have been discarded over the years.But owner Myles Blood Smyth has had enough; and is determined to protect the eco-system he relies on for his livelihood: "We spend every day on the river and we feel a responsibility and affinity for this amazing system of water and life that supplies us with our living. "From there it is a short step to offer help to any organisation that is attempting to repair or improve the river or the surrounding areas."The company has hooked up with Natural England, Devon Sea Fisheries and the Exe Estuary Partnership for the project: "The company has a huge vested interest in the health of the river and our aim is to assist in any way possible to enhance and run the estuary in as ecologically sound a manner as we can."We have put in hundreds of man hours as well as making our boats available. Last week alone it took four people three hours to cut and stack the recovered oyster frames."It seems a pity that the polluters are not being asked to pay for the clean-up."The project came about after Myles took on the lease of an area of the estuary owned by Lord Devon at the beginning of May.However, with the lease came several problem sites previously used for the cultivation of oysters but which had been abandoned - leaving unsightly and dangerous steel cages along parts of the lower and upper Exe shoreline. When asked when it was cleared he admitted: "Pretty much never - although a few well meaning attempts have been tried. "It is far more successful when eight men, a big boat and a crane get involved.""It is turning a desert into an underwater rainforest on a scale that you would be surprised at. "The clean-up is expensive, often dangerous and hard to fit in but it is immensely satisfying and worthwhile when you see the results daily.

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