In this Issue:
Anglers cross the Pond
Jim Donofrio of the US based
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) recently met anglers from across Europe.
The bonds formed then will strengthen us all.
The Common Fisheries Policy
The current and failed CFP is
running out of time, and there are bitter battles being fort to decide what will
A new structure for SACN
Nothing can stay the same;
the pressure is on for SACN to move forward.
The NFSA puts conservation first
The bulk of the NFSA
membership now believes that restoration of the fish stocks is the most
important issue, and the NFSA responds.
Report on a Meeting with DEFRA to discuss CFP reform
Back in July, some ‘stakeholders’ got
together with DEFRA to discuss the proposals for reform of the CFP. Mike Heylin
of the Specialist Anglers Alliance, and a member of the SACN Executive Group,
was there and gives his report.
Bits and Pieces
The Eel Study Group
Science is trying to tell us something
The Hammering of Spawning Stocks
Rigs to Reefs – Nicky Jago
When a student at
Nottingham University was writing her final year thesis, she turned to anglers
for help. We publish her conclusions.
The Dolphins of the Moray Firth - Moray Firth Partnership
SACN was asked for
it’s input to creating a plan to protect the world’s most northerly population
Fish Farms - A Cancer at the Heart of the Coastal
Environment - Roger
A solution to overfishing, or a deadlier peril?
SACN Executive Group member Roger Baker gives his views.
Environmental Policies - Neil Foley
Neil Foley (SACN Science and Academic Co-ordinator)
comments on the CFP
Fishmongers’ Hall, on the banks of the Thames, by London Bridge reeks
history, fish and fishing. SACN were invited to a Meeting of
World Angling Organisations on the 27th September 2002.
representatives from Australia and South Africa were unable to attend, for good
personal reasons, and the actual meeting comprised representatives of angling
organisations throughout Europe, and from the United States.
The meeting was addressed by
Jim Donofrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) of the USA (http://www.savefish.com).
The RFA have a fiercesome
reputation for defending the rights of anglers and the marine environment, and
for bringing together the voice of anglers, and the companies dependent on
angling revenues, to make an effective political fighting machine.
As Jim said ‘It’s not about
science, it’s about politics!’ (An RFA car sticker reads ‘I Fish, I Vote’)
angling organisations cannot help but be envious of the way in which the RFA
have mobilised American anglers to come out fighting, and of the war-chest of
dollars and expertise they have amassed.
Jim Donofrio is a man worth
listening to, and listen we did.
During a long day, many issues
were discussed. Issues of mutual concern were identified and ways of addressing
those issues together were identified.
At the end of the day, it was
agreed that it was important for angling organisations across the globe to
communicate together, and to provide mutual support.
When an American angler’s right
to fish is threatened, that threatens the rights of anglers around the
When a European angling
organisation wins a battle to be recognised as a stakeholder, that strengthens
the hands of anglers across the globe.
Outside of Fishmongers’ Hall,
the Thames flows past. Less than fifty years ago, it was a lifeless poisonous
river. To turn that flow back into a river of life seemed a hopeless dream.
But as we met on that day, sea fish and freshwater fish mingled together in the
The coming together of Anglers
from around the globe on that day brings closer the day when the ‘impossible’
dream of restored stocks will be realised.
But, as with the cleaning of
the Thames, it’s going to take plenty of hard work and involvement from
The review of the common fisheries policy
Anyone who has been following the review, from the
consultation stage, through the EU proposal stage and now toward implementation,
will have gathered just how complex the CFP is, and how dirty the politics are
At the end of this year, the
old CFP expires, along with the ‘transitional arrangements’ designed to protect
the traditional fishing rights of joining neighbours.
If new arrangements are not
agreed, then we face the oft’ quoted nightmare situation of Spanish trawlers,
right up our beaches. (Not that anyone really believes that will
But such brinkmanship cards are
now coming out of the pack to be played, especially by the nations comprising
the self-styled ‘Friends of Fishing’ group (or as Jan Kappel of the EAA more
accurately tags them, the ‘Friends of Over Fishing’ group.
The ‘Northern’ countries, who
are battling hard to keep the EU CFP proposals on track, particularly those
important from a conservation perspective, need nerves and backbones of
comes in the shape of support from voters. If you haven’t done so already, now
would be a good time to drop a line to your MEP!
Structure for SACN
When SACN was first formed few anglers had access to the
Internet and it’s potential for ‘delivering the message’ was in its
SACN came into being to support
the campaigns of other angling organisations and individuals, and to spread the
word, using the Internet.
SACN membership grew, along
with knowledge of SACN by others. The organisations we were formed to support
learned the power of the Internet, and how to use it.
In some ways our original
mission became less necessary, yet we were being expected by many to become more
and more involved, and the workload steadily increased.
We had become too big to be
effective, run by one man and his dog.
A consultation with the
membership was undertaken, and a pathfinder document issued.
It became clear that SACN
needed to expand it’s remit and to ideally become a properly constituted and
funded organisation, but as often is the case in angling politics, plenty had
ideas and were willing to lend a hand, but there were few who felt ready to take
on the responsibility of specific positions within SACN.
So, a halfway house has been
arrived at, while SACN gathers itself and becomes stronger.
All of those members who
expressed a desire to help out have been co-opted into an ‘Executive Group’, now
with collective responsibility for the day to day management of SACN. Some
members of the Executive Group have undertaken to fulfil specific roles, with
the support of the wider group and membership.
The structure of SACN will be
kept under review, and the Executive Group remains answerable to the SACN
Until such time as SACN moves
onto becoming a properly constituted organisation, the Executive Group remains
open to anyone who wants to volunteer their services, either as an executive
member without portfolio, or taking up a vacant position. The Executive Group
will collectively decide whether any member is to be included. And please
remember this is about bringing willing hands to share the work, and there’s
plenty of that!
The SACN Executive Group is
currently comprised of the following people (God help them all!)
Beaugendre – Political Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Connor (Germany) Mikeemail@example.com
Foley – Science and Academic Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Noble – Website Editor Nnoble@nildram.co.uk
Roskilly – SACN Co-ordinator FishSense@aol.com
NFSA puts conservation first
Students of management theory will be familiar with the
‘Boiled Frog Syndrome’. Drop a frog into a shallow pan of hot water, and it
hops right out. Put a frog into a pan of cool water, and slowly heat it and the
frog will sit there until it’s boiled alive. The change happens too slowly for
the frog to recognise the danger.
Many organisations, good at what they’ve always done and
grown large, fail to see the world slowly changing around them, fail to see that
they must change direction and follow another path, if they are to survive in a
Many folk in sea angling, not in so many words perhaps,
felt that was the way that the NFSA was headed.
Listening to its member’s views, the NFSA recognised that
there was an overwhelming desire for NFSA to address the declining stocks. To
paraphrase Jim Donofrio ‘No Fish, No Fishing, No NFSA’
The introduction of Individual membership, the
re-allocation of resources to the conservation effort, that was a brave move and
many were holding their breath. Would this be a new beginning, or an end to the
Over 6,000 anglers have signed up for Individual or
Personal membership, two thirds of them have confirmed that Conservation is
their number one concern.
That is a success!
But, let’s not be complacent. There’s much work to be
done, and that needs financing, and many more hands to the pump.
If you haven’t yet joined NFSA, go here: http://www.nfsa.org.uk/membership/membership1.htm
For heaven’s sake, it only costs a tenner!!
Report on a Meeting with DEFRA to discuss CFP reform 23rd
Steven Wentworth Fisheries
Peter Boiling Head of Fisheries DEFRA
Mark Holden Sea
Fisheries Conservation Division DEFRA
Association of Frozen Food Producers,
National Federation of Fishermans Organisations, South West Fish Producers
Organisation, Thanet Fishermen, English Nature, RSPB, Sussex Sea Fisheries
Committee, Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee, RSPCA, Association of Sea Fisheries
Committees, Parliamentary Sea Fisheries Committee, European Fishing Tackle Trade
Association, Angling Trade Association, Specialist Anglers Alliance, Atlantic
Salmon Trust, Fishmongers, Shellfish.
Steven Wentworth was in the
DEFRA is keen to see the end of counter-productive
subsidies on fleet and effort reductions.
There will be European Council
meetings held in September, October, November and December this year. The
meetings will be of a merged Agriculture and Fisheries Council so Fisheries may
not always be an agenda item. The merged Council meeting in July had no
Fisheries content. The Danes, who have the Presidency at the moment, are keen
to reach a conclusion of the CFP by November this year, leaving December to set
TACs and quotas.
The producers, Frozen Food and
NFFO, complained that the proposed CFP no longer seeks to regulate the market or
express concern for consumer prices.
Access to waters and resources
There was common ground between
angling, other NGOs and the commercial sector on industrial fishing and
aquaculture being non-viable in the long term if the CFP is to produce results
in better stocks of fin fish and other target species. Our objection to
aquaculture is based on the ratio of 10lb of food fish taken to produce 1lb of
farmed fish. Atlantic Salmon Trust supports SAA in this stance.
The Sea Fishery Committees want
control of the 12 mile limit above all else. They expressed concern over the
expansion of foreign effort with ever larger vessels and gear. Sea Fishery
Committees only have control of the domestic fleet at the moment.
SAA and ATA supported the SCFs
and RSPB on administration of the 12 mile limit.
The commercials are concerned
at the huge impact of effort/vessel cut backs. DEFRA explained that the figures
for decommissioning published by the Commission had been used by the Commission
to produce the budget and were not for any other purpose. It would be down to
National Governments to determine how fleet/effort reductions were to be
achieved. DEFRA would be insisting that cuts to date be included in counting
back to proposed reduction levels.
Thanet fishermen wanted the10
metre fleet included in the fleet effort controls to improve the chances for the
remaining “inshore” fishermen using vessels of under 10 metres. SAA made the
point that the vessels subject to fleet reduction could be recommissioned as
angling charter boats and used for sustainable fishing effort. DEFRA pointed
out that the rules would have to be changed to allow that but they would look at
it. The commercials saw the benefits to coastal employment of such a
Thanet reported thirty/forty
stone of fish landed by angling boats and sold on by the skippers, with anglers
retaining only two fish each. SAA pointed out that such actions were illegal
and should be subject to policing by the relevant bodies. DEFRA was not keen
to be spending more money on policing – this was a recurrent theme through a
number of the following topics. So much for our increased tax bills
Angling boats were travelling
up to forty miles from ports to make these catches, which was beyond the range
of many of the <10 m fleet. The angling boat was paid for by selling the
catch. The problem is particularly bad in Holland and Belgium with vessels
carrying as many as thirty anglers aboard for 8/12 hour trips.
The <10m fleets was
concerned that effort control should include catch limits for sports anglers.
Consensus was reached with commercials on the basis of;
No selling of catch by
Bag limits per species for
anglers, say three fish per rod per species per days effort
Policing and enforcement
Adequate sea stocks
Multi Annual Management Plans
The Commissions proposals
include the following; “Targets for management of the stocks concerned in terms
of population size and fishing mortality rates;”
SAA wanted size and sexual
maturity included as a parameter in these rules. This proposal was agreed by
all at the table, everyone understood the importance of allowing target species
at least one breeding season.
We expressed concern at
3rd country impacts on artisanal fishermen and coastal communities.
Others were shocked by what they heard from SAA regarding the depletion of
stocks and deaths caused by European fishing effort in West African waters and
the killing of turtles by European prawn fishermen in East African
RSPB wanted Environmental
Impact Assessments to be conducted on fisheries and effort before new fisheries
could be developed or increases in effort allowed.
Salmon – migratory fish are in
danger from pelagic fishing. Pelagic effort can wipe out whole year classes of
smolts as they shoal to head for the feeding grounds.
RSPCA raised the cetacean
by-catch and asked for an outline of the UK plan and strategy to limit
by-catch. This sounded like a prepared question and DEFRA refused to answer on
the basis that it was not the intention of this meeting to discuss DEFRA
All agreed that the removal of
aggregate by dredging should be banned from fishing grounds and specifically
from breeding and nursery areas.
English Nature agreed on the
need to protect these vital habitats and went on to say that EN is a fan of the
CFP proposals and that the UK must champion many of these environmental aspects
if we are to avoid the rest of the world pointing the finger at us in the future
for mismanaging the resource.
Thanet raised the issue of
endocrine disrupters being discharged to sea via long sea outfalls. SAA asked
for any science they had, to add to the work being done by SAA, the EA and
others on EDs. They had none but anyone working on EDs in riverine systems
should also be looking at the effects of these chemicals at sea.
Effective and participatory decision-making
SFCs are in favour of RACs but
a little concerned about non-commercial inputs to them. We need to show the
SFCs that angling can make a positive, knowledgeable, contribution to the
development of sustainable fishery policy.
There is, as yet, no definition
of the areas these RACs will cover. Concern was expressed that they should be
local enough to be effective yet large enough to be purposeful.
DEFRA said that RACs will need
to be focussed, numbers involved may be massive and that practical issues may
make them unwieldy. Present SFCs have problems getting representative views
Michael Rankin M.P., PCFC, made
the point that he thought Advisory Councils were a waste of time without
executive power to effect change. DEFRA said this would not happen at this
stage in CFP development.
Concerns were expressed over
the merger of fisheries and agricultural interests on Council
There was a demand for
Preferential Quotas for low impact hand line fisheries like those in the South
It was suggested, by DEFRA,
that the Commonwealth Secretariat would be interested in our data on the
3rd world fisheries problem.
Comment from Mike Heylin
These notes are not
exhaustive. I was involved directly in a lot of the discussion and had to make
notes between inputs.
It was a very positive meeting
and I found many points of common interest with the commercial fishermen present
at this meeting. This may not always be the case. The inshore guys from Thanet
had reservations about angling effort but listened to our points and found them
acceptable, at least to the point that open warfare did not break out and some
useful dialogue followed the meeting. They were interested in the
SAA/WWF/EA/NAFAC/NAA research into EDs.
The NGOs were for the most part
singing from the same song sheet, shared by angling; that of conservation of
stocks, habitat protection, effort modifications and participation in RACs.
RSPCA was surprised at our positive stance and the knowledge angling had of the
SAA built some bridges and made
what may prove to be useful contacts. By keeping an open mind and dealing with
open minded fishermen angling could develop useful dialogues with the commercial
inshore fleets and use this understanding to further our cause regarding the
pair trawling of breeding stocks of bass and other issues.
We made the point that a 10lb
bass to a sport fisherman is probably worth £500 to the economy, to an inshore
fisherman is probably worth £4.95 a pound, i.e. £49.50 and is worth only about
£20.00 to the pair trawler. It was obvious that many at the table had never
thought of, or heard of, the economic power of sport fishing put like that. We
used the £5 billion figure for the value of the sport in the UK and the Nautilus
Report to justify the figures we were quoting.
23rd July 2002
Bits and Pieces
The Eel Study Group
If there’s a better bait for
tope than fresh eel section, then it’s one that I don’t know about. They also
make excellent pike baits!
The fact that I no longer use
eel for bait, either sea fishing, or fishing in freshwater, is largely down to
the information which the Eel Study Group has led the way in publicising.
Did you know that, once in a
freshwater lake, an eel can live in excess of 70 years? Or that they can grow
to around 10lb? That the silver eels caught off our coasts are the same species
that turn a golden colour and live in freshwater for a large part of their
lives? That eels are thought to return to the Sargasso sea to breed (but no one
knows for sure?), and their fry make the return journey back to our coasts,
coming back into our rivers as elvers?
The more I learn about these
fascinating creatures, the more respect I have for them.
It’s a pity then that
overfishing for the eels, at all their life stages, in both marine and
freshwater environments, has taken such a toll. Not to mention the damage done
by upriver power stations etc.
Now we learn that European eels
seem to have picked up a parasite of the swim bladder which may be making the
long trip back to the spawning grounds an impossible journey for many.
Studies have shown that eels
particularly pick up and store in their bodies many harmful chemicals and heavy
metals. Eating too many of them is definitely not a good idea.
Those that are caught and are
to be released should be treated with care. If they are deep hooked, the best
advice is to snip the line as close as possible (they have easily damaged vital
organs not far down their throat – poking about can easily be fatal).
Otherwise, try the old trick of
laying them on their back and gently stroking them until they become supine. It
makes unhooking far easier. If they are to be released, forget the advice to
lay them on dry newspaper, or grasp them with a dry cloth. This removes their
protective slime and seriously compromises their chances of survival.
If there’s two of you, I find
that if one grips the eel in two hands, pushing forward and down at the front,
and back and up at the rear, the eel’s wriggling instincts are totally confused
and it will stay still whilst your companion removes the hook.
Although comprised mainly of
Freshwater Anglers, the ESG have recognised that the battle for the preservation
of their favourite species starts out in the deep waters of the sea, and in the
estuaries of our rivers. SACN is glad to welcome the ESG to membership, and to
work together with them on the issues that affect the fishing of us all.
Science is trying to tell us
Jim Donofrio of the RFA will
tell you that it’s not about science, it’s about politics, and that is very
However science is the
argument, politics is what carries the argument. And it’s interesting the
things that science has to say about our fish stocks.
A time of plenty?
Fishery Managers look back on
the years following World War II as the time when fish stocks had been allowed
to ‘recover’. Not much fishing went on in the dangerous waters of the North
Sea, the English Channel, or the European Atlantic continental shelf during the
period of hostilities.
And after the war, the
previously depleted stocks were back to abundance, a great time to be a sea
Those years are regarded as a
baseline for fishery management. But palaeontological evidence shows that even
then, we were looking at stocks that were just a fraction of what nature
Palaeontologists now believe
that the oceans, before man learned to exploit them, were (in their words)
‘fabulously abundant’. And the palaeontological record shows that even in the
very early days of man’s ability to fish, most of the damage was already
Depressingly, they claim that
even if all fishing were to cease, it will take tens of thousands of years for
the oceans to return to their natural abundance.
Fish ARE getting smaller!
It’s been suspected for some
while now that a fishery policy that concentrates on removing the larger
specimens from a population, produces an evolutionary pressure that drives the
mean size of a species down.
This wasn’t too much of a worry
for the commercial fishing interests as, as long as overall productivity wasn’t
affected (a larger number of smaller fish), smaller fish are more marketable
However, recent research shows
that the number of fish in a population is not increased as the average size
decreases, so overall production is decreased, and that the reduction in average
size effect is measurable over just a few generations.
Again, recent research has
shown that when a population of fish is over-fished before many of the
individuals being taken have had the opportunity to breed, there is a dramatic
reduction in the genetic diversity of the species.
That is particularly dangerous
when the species is suffering environmental stress (such as due to global
warming). Lack of genetic biodiversity damages the ability of a species to
adapt to environmental change, and makes it more likely to become extinct as
The message is clear, species
should not be taken until they are well above their spawning age.
The Hammering of
I have a charter boat in a small
village called Porthleven, situated in the heart of Mounts Bay ( most southerly
port in Cornwall ).
I am sure that others have already mentioned this,
but I thought I would put my 'two peneth worth' in.
The months between
December and February are general associated with the Pollock and Ling carrying
their roe (i.e. weighing heavy) and generally congregating together in the hope
of making lots of little Pollock and Ling to fuel our sport for years to
These months, last year in particular, Newlyn Fish Market was
flooded with the above species, with most vessels landing 100 stone of fish, per
boat, per day.
The year before last, between two charter boats, we caught
approximately 40 - 50 Pollock over 10lb and 20 - 30 ling over 15lb this year, so
far, I doubt if we have had more than 20 Pollock over 10lb and 5 ling over
I would have thought there must be a member of DEFRA who has done
enough angling over the years, or seen some evidence of the decline in fish
stocks, to inform the rest of his colleagues ( who obviously go around with
blinkers on ) that this kind of gill net hammering can not be sustained
at the particular time these fish should be protected.
If I am speaking
out of turn and there is something being done about it, someone please inform
Stuart Athay (A truly concerned
The concerns you have raised go to the
heart of why SACN has been formed.
Once the seas were thought to contain
an inexhaustible and self-sustaining bounty, the only problems were how to
harvest it, and how to bring it to everyone.
Well, those problems have
largely been solved.
Now there is no hiding place for any fish, our
technology can find them and reach them. Our technology can freeze and process
them, so that anyone with change in their pocket can buy them, even in the
hottest places of the world far distant from the sea.
The trouble is that
our premise that the wealth of the seas is inexhaustible has found to be wrong.
Too many people, too many boats, too much equipment - not enough
Yet all of our organisations regulating the catching of fish came
into existence long before we learned that truth. The premises and culture on
which they are founded still apply.
To change means pain for someone.
A lot of pain now for some, to prevent even greater pain in future for
But of course, if you are the one who is expected to take the
pain now, you fight against that tooth and nail.
Logic, ethics, common
sense, morality, science. None of these matter, only political will.
It's SACN's job to support others in developing that political will.
And we try very hard to do that.
Unfortunately, there is no
protection for fish gathering to spawn.
And when fish are scarce and
they gather together, unfortunately for them they become an easier
As evidenced by the devastation of the bass shoals, gathering to
spawn each winter in the south-western approaches and 'harvested' by the
Fish that can live 25 years, exceed 20lbs, spawn 15
times, taken at the time of their first spawning, many still full of the roe and
milt they were carrying.
Fish that are worth many, many times the price
they fetch as protein, when exploited for their recreational value, or as
bycatch, grown larger, by small inshore fishermen.
Yes, and the species
you mention too Stuart.
And when we protest, the pat answer we receive
from DEFRA often contains the phrase 'the needs of recreational anglers must be
balanced against the livelihoods of fishermen and their families'. What about
your livelihood Stuart? And all the other livelihoods dependent upon
recreational angling? We never seem to get an answer to that
Nor are the authorities inclined to fund a study into the value
of the Recreational Fishery.
Such studies that do exist, overseas and
regionally in the UK, overwhelmingly demonstrate that the socio-economic benefit
of recreational angling far exceeds that which comes from the commercial fleet,
especially when shellfish, nephrops, monkfish, and all of the other species that
are of no interest to recreationals, is stripped out.
livelihood is entwined with the administration of the commercial sector cannot
believe that, and cannot commit to a course of action that will reveal the truth
They still do not see that the 'political will' that will bring
about change is growing, the message is spreading, and more and more anglers are
beginning to take political action - such as writing to their MP and
Tight Lines –Ed
Rigs to Reefs – Nicky Jago
Hi! I've finally finished my
rigs-to-reefs thesis, and thought you might be interested in my conclusions (see
below). I also want to thank you again for all your help-I'm sure you were at
least partly responsible for the fantastic response I had from anglers to my
many regions rigs-to-reefs programmes have been found to provide a number of
benefits, including enhancement of commercial fish stocks, protection of
habitats, and an attraction for sports anglers and divers. While so many of
these programmes have proved successful, it may seem strange that so little
research has been carried out into the use of such a scheme in the North Sea, a
region where extensive over-exploitation has led to declining fish stocks and
lost seabed habitats.
Part of the reason for the apparent lack of interest is
the controversy over the potential impacts on already dangerously depleted fish
stocks. Some evidence suggests that rigs as reefs would retain fish, and help
them grow. They could also protect juveniles from indiscriminate fishing
practices, increasing juvenile survival rate and hence adult fish stocks
(Picken, 1992). Others however, suggest that rather than increase biomass reefs
would primarily attract and concentrate fish, making them more vulnerable to
exploitation (AUMS, 1997).
Other obstacles that have prevented initiation of a
North Sea programme are the concerns of the important stakeholder groups, such
as the navigational hazard posed by sub-surface structures, lost fishing
grounds, potential for pollution, and liability issues. However, the results of
the questionnaire and interview survey show that while stakeholders understand
the importance of distinguishing between careful placement of materials to
create a reef, and dumping/disposal of structures, many would support a
rigs-to-reefs scheme, and are keen for further research to take place. Perhaps
the outcome of such research could be used in the reappraisal of the OSPAR ban
on dumping, which currently prevents the development of a North Sea
most interesting aspect of the results of the survey is the response from sports
anglers and divers. Although it had been suggested that a North Sea rig-reef
would not be a suitable attraction for these groups, the overwhelmingly positive
response obtained by the survey suggests that the recreational angling and
diving community could in fact play an important role in such a scheme. The
study initially set out to attempt to assess the impacts of a North Sea
rigs-to-reefs programme aimed primarily at increasing fish stocks. The results
of the survey indicate that while the scheme could (arguably) have benefits for
commercial stocks and certainly provide benefits for marine communities and
habitats, there could also be important socio-economic benefits gained through
use of the rig-reefs as attractions for sports anglers and divers.
is important to remember however, that despite a generally positive and
enthusiastic response to the concept of North Sea rigs-to-reefs, the opinions
expressed in the questionnaire survey may be based on low levels of information.
This obvious (although potentially misguided) support for a North Sea
rigs-to-reefs scheme could however be perceived as another reason for
policy-makers to carry out the necessary research to provide evidence to confirm
the true feasibility of such a scheme.
results of both the literature review and the questionnaire survey have
highlighted the need (and enthusiasm amongst most stakeholders) for further
research in this area, and also a number of issues which stakeholders feel must
be resolved, prior to deployment, namely:
Effects of rig-reefs on local and regional commercial fish stocks
Potential contamination effects
Physical integrity issues
- Navigational and safety issues
most useful data that could be produced would come from a full-scale, in-situ
test programme. This study therefore attempted to design such a programme based
on the information obtained through the investigation. The test programme would
involve the deployment of a single steel jacket, in an area 15 miles off the UK
coast, north east of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and at a depth of >80m. The
lattice-type jacket would be separated into several units and laid on the
seabed, and a commercial no-take zone would be enforced around the site. A
5-year monitoring programme would be established, with assistance from the
recreational angling and diving communities, who would be allowed strictly
controlled use of the reef.
However, if such a programme were to go ahead, much
opposition could be expected, particularly from environmentalist groups. While
these groups may by swayed by positive results of a long-term monitoring scheme,
many of the other issues involved (particularly regarding the fishing community)
are socio-economic, and are not likely to be altered by additional biological
research (Steinbach, 1991).
For these reasons, extensive planning must take place
prior to any deployment, and involvement of all interested parties is
dolphins of the Moray Firth
From time to time SACN is
asked to take part in various consultations. Having campaigned on the plight of
the dolphins of the Moray Firth, whose numbers were dwindling (partly suspected
as a result of decreasing food supplies) SACN was asked to take part in the
consultation aimed at putting in a new management scheme to secure their
Most of the issues and
comments identified by SACN were incorporated into the final document. These
comments were largely directed at taking a ‘holistic’ view of the ecology
supporting the dolphin population, ensuring protection for the environment
supporting the entire food chain.
This is an example of one of
the ways that anglers can make a contribution to the environmental cause, and at
the same time protect the health of the stocks we are interested in.
SACN is proud to be
acknowledged as contributing to the consultation, particularly representing the
words ‘Sea Anglers’.
MANAGEMENT SCHEME FOR THE MORAY FIRTH
new Management Scheme has been launched, aimed at securing the future of the
dolphins in the Moray Firth.
Organisations, businesses and individuals have worked
together to develop the scheme, seeking to ensure that management of activities
taking place in the Firth is compatible with the dolphin interests. The Scheme
addresses a wide range of potential threats to the dolphins caused by
disturbance, contamination, disease and depletion of food resources, and
includes activities such as contaminant discharge, boat traffic, dredging and
sea disposal, fishing, military activity and oil industry operations.
Widespread public consultation on the scheme has resulted in around 100 agreed
management actions, with a focus on codes of practice and specific actions by
individual organisations, rather than blanket bans or prohibition.
Scheme also highlights many associated benefits. Work to protect the dolphins
is essentially work to protect the whole Firth ecosystem. Improving the
environment for dolphins may also improve it for many other wildlife species,
including, for example, commercial fish stocks. Furthermore, many people travel
to the Moray Firth each year to catch a glimpse of the dolphins and revenue from
the tourist industry surrounding the dolphins makes a valuable contribution to
the area’s economy.
Scheme has been developed in response to a large part of the Moray Firth
becoming a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) under the EC Habitats
Directive. The cSAC recognises the national and international importance of the
Moray Firth dolphins. They are one of only two known resident populations in
the UK and are the only resident population in the North Sea. They are also the
most northerly group of bottlenose dolphins in the world.
1999, a research project commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage showed the
population to be in decline.
Development of the Management Scheme is overseen by the
Moray Firth SAC Management Group. The Group comprises representatives of the
relevant authorities with statutory responsibilities in and around the cSAC,
including The Cromarty Firth Port Authority, The Crown Estate, DTI (Oil and
Gas), Fisheries Research Services (Marine Laboratory), The Highland Council,
Inverness Harbour Trust, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, North of Scotland Water
Authority, Northern Constabulary, MoD (RAF Kinloss), The Moray Council, Scottish
Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, with scientific
advice from the University of Aberdeen. The Moray Firth Partnership (MFP) has
facilitated development of the scheme through provision of a Moray Firth SAC
Project Officer, with sponsorship from the EC LIFE Environment fund and the
Completion of the Management Scheme is just the start of
the process of securing a future for the dolphins in the Moray Firth.
Implementation of the Scheme has already begun and will continue over the months
and years ahead. Only time will tell how successful it will be, but continued
monitoring and review of the Scheme will help to ensure its positive impact on
scheme will also be developed over the coming months through further public
consultation to take account of the sandbanks, the other qualifying feature of
the Moray Firth cSAC.
Copies of the Moray Firth cSAC Management Scheme are
available from the Moray Firth SAC Project Officer, telephone 01349 860360,
e-mail email@example.com, or from the MFP website at www.morayfirth-partnership.org.
Fish Farms - A Cancer At The Heart Of The Coastal
Environment - Roger Baker
recommend a visit to Roger’s website http://www.cloghvoola.com - ed)
"Intensive industrial scale aquaculture has become
synonymous with pollution and destruction of the marine environment, conflicts
with other resource users, and high levels of toxins in the fish produced. The
spread of aquaculture, a cause of increasing concern and growing alarm, has been
described as a cancer at the heart of the coastal environment" (Tudela:
Introduction and Background
As a sea angler, you may feel that
your sport will be unaffected by fish farms or may even improve because of them.
Certainly during my campaigning days for bass, one of the UK government’s expert
advisers in MAFF tried to have me believe that the bass farms of the
Mediterranean would be the panacea to my problem. Now, from available scientific
evidence, this would appear not so.
For most of the 80’s decade, I
worked and commuted to London from my smallholding in Devon, where at weekends
I fished for sea trout and salmon in rivers such as the Teign, the Exe and Dart.
I witnessed firsthand a decline in salmon and sea trout fishing felt all around
the British Isles. A problem better understood by anglers but largely ignored by
successive governments and others on the gravy-train.
On the back of the 1990 legislation
to protect sea bass (another love), I jumped off the corporate merry-go-round in
London, sold the smallholding in Devon and bought an old Cornish Inn named after
the ocean it overlooked. To learn more about sea bass, I fished ‘commercially’
with local hand-liners from 18ft Pilots in what could have been, a sustainable
fishery. I caught bass from the shore on lures and flies and practiced catch and
release, which I prefer. We developed plans and bought holiday cottages and
boats to develop angling tourism, based on sea bass. However, the plans were
Opening the bar one February
morning in 1995, two regular customers, commercial fishermen from Newlyn who had
just come ashore, brought news of an armada of French and Scottish vessels
pair-trawling and plundering the mother lode of migrating bass, 15 miles
south-west of Lizard. A campaign was weighed, it brought like-minded anglers
together who still campaign, but the fishery could not attract tourist anglers
today. Each successive winter’s exploitation by trawlers has reduced the fishery
to recruitment-sized bass of 1-2 kilos, only. Where it was not uncommon to catch
a dozen 6-8lb bass in a single morning with a single hook, one fish of that size
in a season is a feat for an angler today!
In March 2002 we sold up in
Cornwall and moved to South-West Kerry, Ireland. A remote Irish farmhouse close
to Lough Currane and Ballinskelligs Bay already att