The road to 'recovery'
The Vice Chair of the NFFO South East committee explains how the industry is often wrongly accused of damaging the environment.
The finger is often pointed at fishermen as being the direct cause of any damage done to seabeds in our waters. However, this is by no means the case.
The easy solution to the problem it seems is to convert an area into a ‘marine conservation zone’ (MCZ) controlling exactly what can and can’t be fished in the said area.
Folkestone has become the latest area to be selected as an MCZ, because of an abundance of Spoon Worms in the area, a species nearly unique to the South of England.
I recently attended a meeting to come up with an agenda to finance a scientific investigation into the damage that ground trawling does to the sea bed in Hythe Bay. Expectedly, the usual suspects have made calls for a total ban on all fishing until the area is ‘recovered’.
But what equates to ‘recovered’? We have no benchmark for this and no information on what these waters were like 100 years ago to compare it to. Of course, this is going to have an extremely damaging effect on the Folkestone fishing industry. There is no evidence whatsoever that fishing in this area has caused any damaging effect to the environment. Folkestone fishermen can also prove their gear has done no lasting damage to both the spoon worm and fish stocks, as both are so prolific in that area.
Compare this to the Thames where fishing has collapsed, where fishermen can only dream of seeing the catches of the Folkestone boats. The question needs to be asked, why is no scientific work going on in this area too? My fear is that ministers are waiting for the industry to totally collapse before it is ‘recovered’.
We continue to change the environment we live and work in. Many windfarms are now having problems with scouring; rocks and sand are being used to cover the cables and there is erosion around the turbines. It’s unfair that fishing gear is deemed to damage the environment, purely because it changes it! The ability to feed ourselves is in the national interest, is it not?!