Charity defends 'responsible' Lyme Bay fishermen amid poaching concerns (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Charity defends 'responsible' Lyme Bay fishermen amid poaching concerns
A CHARITY has defended responsible fishermen amid concerns that poachers are dredging for scallops illegally in Lyme Bay.
Although many local fishermen are working with the charity Blue Marine Foundation to manage the protected areas responsibly, poachers are undoing the work by damaging the reefs.
Charles Clover, co-founder of Blue, said: “There are a lot of poachers that are damaging the reefs.
“We want to give some value to the people who are not damaging the reefs and have gone to a lot of trouble to fish responsibly both inside and outside the protected area.
“Marine protected areas are controversial but it is possible for fishermen to get something out of them as long as they are not stopped from fishing.”
Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) recently put in a higher level of surveillance to catch poachers.
Axminster chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight programme will this week examine the impact of marine protected areas on biodiversity and sustaining fish stocks, with a focus on Lyme Bay.
Blue, which was founded in 2010, is working with fishermen in Lyme Bay to help them managed the areas and get value for their product.
Mr Clover said: “I think we are becoming effective in Lyme Bay because we are coming in as a kind of honest broker between the conservationists and a fishing industry that feels very bruised by its dealings with conservationists and government. We wanted to work with the fishermen to try and get some added value for the fish they catch and to make fishermen the local heroes for looking after the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve.”
Although Blue has no statutory legal powers, it is working to deliver more fish, biodiversity, and for the benefit of the coastal communities.
Mr Clover said a 'fantastic' meeting was held in Lyme Regis last week, when 60 fishermen, chefs, fish auctioneers and other stakeholders came together at the Royal Lion Hotel.
“The auctioneers said they can give the fishermen an instant premium on their fish if they can identify the vessel it's come from, providing it is high quality.
“Chefs said local and sustainable fish are the two most important things, price is third.
“That blew us away, we weren't looking at it that way.
“It comes down to quality, traceability and sustainability and that's what we are not going to try and develop.
“We are trying to bring in the resources that will help them prove the sustainability so they can defend their access to the resource.
“We want to extend that to fishermen not only in the area but fishermen excluded from the area with mobile gear.”