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Fears grow on illegal bay scallop dredging
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.