Britain’s shell fish disaster

Image nephrops prawn langoustine  bycatch fish waste

The catch from an Irish Sea bottom trawler – all they were after were the little red prawns. Copyright Johnny Woodlock

Here’s the top of my Observer Magazine  story on the sad and destructive prawn and scallop trawling that’s now the west coast’s most valuable fishery. A huge and interesting response – see the comments here – from academics, fishermen and shellfish lovers… Please tell me what you think below.

The dispute is savage (between the scientists and between the fishermen). Here’s an email I got today from a casual diver I know well:

I was diving for scallops off Lochmaddy 3 years ago and an Oban Registered scallop dredger steamed full throttle towards me and my buddy just after we had surfaced – very intimidating stuff – the intention was very clear and hostile, threatening words were shouted at us. The other thing that no-one sees is the damage these dredgers do to the seabed – everything is obliterated, torn from the sand, ripped and destroyed. It takes decades for the seabed to recover.

If you’re interested, make sure and watch Hugh’s Fish Fight on Channel 4  tomorrow, 14th Feb. We need a simple, clear public campaign not to ban bottom trawling, but just set a modest limit on the inshore seabed ploughing that’s doing so much damage – 1.5km or 3km has been suggested by the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust.  There’s evidence that the Welsh and Scottish governments might be movable.

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