MCS helps protect Welsh waters from damaging scallop dredging.

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 1 March 2010

The Marine Conservation Society has been involved in securing a groundbreaking agreement from the Welsh Assembly Government to restrict scallop dredging from current Welsh Marine Protected Areas.

The Marine Conservation Society has been involved in securing a groundbreaking agreement from the Welsh Assembly Government to restrict scallop dredging from current Welsh Marine Protected Areas. Scallop dredgers, which use steel hooks and chain mats to retrieve scallops from the sea bed, will only be allowed in certain parts of these areas if they can prove they won’t damage rare and threatened conservation features such as diverse reefs and shallow sandbanks. However, Beam trawlers and other bottom towed fishing gears, where large nets are dragged behind a boat, will still be able to operate inside these protected areas, Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS’s Biodiversity Policy Officer says other fishing styles should be assessed over damage to vulnerable habitats. “Because the Welsh scallop order only deals with scallop dredging, MCS still feels that effects from all bottom towed fishing gears should be looked into to. We have written to the Welsh Assembly Government to remind them of their legal duties to protect these areas from this sort of activity.” MCS has been working with local campaigners, such as ‘Save Cardigan Bay to highlight the damage to the seabed caused by scallop dredging in Welsh Marine Protected sites. Dr Solandt is delighted by the restriction. “The move in Wales follows an MCS campaign that began in 2006, when scallop dredging was found to be damaging local habitats in the beautiful Fal Bay area in Cornwall. Eventually the UK Government banned bottom trawling and scallop dredging from the area to the benefit of plants, animals and shellfish stocks. I’m confident that the same restrictions in Wales will benefit more sustainable fisheries and the local marine ecosystem.”

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