View Full Version : Scallop dredgers face large scale UK ban

Davie Tait
18th September 2012, 15:47

The controversial practice of dredging for scallops can be banned in large areas around the UK coastline, it is being suggested.

Environmental journalist Charles Clover, founder of Fish2Fork, the campaigning restaurant guide for people who want to eat fish sustainably, says that scallop dredgers and trawlers could be forced out of more than 200 protected marine sites in UK waters as a result of a new legal ruling by the government.

Scallop dredging has become a major issue in some areas, particularly around the Isle of Man and off the Yorkshire Coast where Britain's largest shellfish fleet is concentrated.

Mr Clover, who also writes a regular environmental column for the Sunday Times, says the new interpretation of EU law on habitats and species, which has been forced on the government by environmental groups, could see scallop dredgers and trawlers from around Europe, including Spain, Belgium and France, banned from nearly a quarter of inshore waters in England.

A letter to fishermen and conservationists from a senior official at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – seen by Fish2fork – explains that the government is to bring commercial fishing in European marine protected areas in line with other activities, such as wind farms or oil and gas exploration, ensuring that before they be allowed to fish in an area they demonstrate they will not damage it.

The new legal ruling has been made for European marine sites in England, but it is understood that it will apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and to fishermen from other countries, such as Belgium and France, fishing in European protected marine sites in UK waters.

Fish2Fork says places where fishermen will now have to prove that their operations do not destroy protected features such as reefs include protected sites in the Bristol Channel, the Scilly Isles, north Cornwall, and St Abbs Head and Flamborough Head in the North East.

There are 95 special areas of conservation in UK waters and 107 special protection areas for birds that have a marine component. Defra's letter says that where a fishing activity is proposed in a European marine site and is considered significant by the authorities it will now have to undergo an “appropriate assessment” to ensure that it is not harmful to the features of the site.