Exmouth RNLI and fishermen warning over shell fish farm

PUBLISHED: 14:12 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:35 18 June 2010

A NEW shellfish farm in Lyme Bay could affect rescues RNLI s ability to rescue craft in Lyme Bay and ruin fishermen s livelihoods.

A NEW shellfish farm in Lyme Bay could affect rescues RNLI's ability to rescue craft in Lyme Bay and ruin fishermen's livelihoods.

The district council's environment chief has backed Exmouth and Budleigh lifeboat men, fisherman and other water users against a new mussel farm.

Councillor Graham Brown, EDDC's Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder Environment has written to the Crown Estate's chief executive Roger Bright expressing 'serious' concerns.

The Estate will decide whether to grant Offshore Shellfish Ltd a licence.

It follows a meeting with water users after concerns were raised by EDDC's Development Management Committee.

The district council were consulted and recommended the plans be refused and Cllr Brown said: "The RNLI have expressed ...concerns about its own ability to...rescue leisure and other craft in storm conditions (so) close to proposed network of 20,000 kilometres of submerged rope (the infrastructure of the shellfish farm.)"

He also raised concerns about the affect on the East Devon's World Heritage Coastline: "With shore-to-sea visibility of up to six miles, it is difficult to believe that positioning of some 2,500 black buoys, two metres high by half a metre wide, some of which would be permanently illuminated, can occur without impact on the visual amenity."

He said that Nick Prust, Chairman of the South West Inshore Fishermen's Association, and John Newton, Chairman of the East Devon Fishermen's Association, both considered the plans a 'very serious' threat to fishermen's livelihoods.

Cllr Brown added that a chunk of East Devon's economy was commercial and leisure boating and with a large swathe of Lyme Bay earmarked as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) a shellfish farm would further curtail boating activity:

"If (fishermen) are prevented from net fishing within the MCZ, the viability of East Devon's inshore fleet is likely to be even more seriously challenged by ...a major offshore shellfish farm ...(in) waters between Sidmouth and Exmouth.

"Local fishermen are not convinced that it is technically possible to fish waters within, or close to, the proposed shellfish farm.

"They fear that even if they could, the impact of the farm would be so damaging on the quality of these important fishing grounds as to render their efforts worthless."

He urged the Mr Bright to first to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and meet concerned groups before a decision was reached.

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