While European bass stocks have reduced by around 40% in the last five years there has finally been some good news as action is now being taken the stop the decline and increase stocks. Bass numbers have fallen so badly as French pair trawlers – powerful boats which drag a huge net between them – target this species as it congregates to spawn in the English Channel in late winter and early spring. This destructive fishing practice has been removing large numbers of mature bass and wiping out the next generation of bass before it even hatches. While talks in December did not produce any protection for bass emergency legislation was forced through this month by the UK, and pair trawling for bass in the English Channel, Irish Sea, southern North Sea and Celtic Sea is now banned between January and the end of April. Read more here.
It was also reported this month that anglers’ head torches were causing potentially dangerous issues with shipping. The Daily Mirror reported that the crews of ships and yachts in Sussex had either been dazzled by anglers’ head lights, or even mistaken them for oncoming ships. It was reported that the Angling Trust was campaigning for anglers to put blue filters in their headlights to reduce the power of the beams and prevent issues with shipping from happening in the future. Read the article in the Daily Mirror by clicking here.
Further news emerged on the Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) which are being created around the coastline of England and Wales. The initial plan was for 127 MCs, although the first tranche only planned for twenty-seven to be designated, much to the frustration of conservation and environmental groups. This month saw the next batch of MCZs announced, with thirty-seven new zones planned at the start of this month. However, by the end of January this had already been reduced down to just twenty-three new zones, and since they are still at the consultation phase they will not become a reality for some time yet. Read more about this on The Guardian website by clicking here.
An ultra rare frilled shark was caught this month off the coast of Australia. The species, which is often referred to as a living fossil, is seldom seen by humans due to the depths at which it lives and is of immense scientific interest. See pictures of the frilled shark on the Telegraph’s website here.
The Guardian examined the issue of plastic waste in the world’s oceans, stating that this could become the planet’s next major ecological emergency. The article pointed out that it is not only the huge amounts of floating rubbish which are an issue, but also the microscopic particles of plastic which, while barely visible, are a major issue to a variety of marine life. Read the article here.
Fishermen were dramatically rescued from a fishing boat which found itself in difficulties forty-eight miles off the coast of the Isle of Lewis. In the footage taken from a rescue helicopter the crew get off the boat seconds before it sinks beneath the waves, and are then rescued from the sea by being winched up into the helicopter. Watch the video of the incident by clicking here.
Finally, pop singer Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, better known as Cheryl Cole, made the news when she was apparently terrified by a close encounter with a shark while on holiday in the Caribbean. She was supposedly snorkeling in the Caribbean sea when she “screamed with shock” when she spotted a blacktip shark. The species grows to around five feet in length and is usually timid, but on rare occasions has been known to attack humans. Fernandez-Versini made it safely back to dry land was left “shaken” but unharmed by the encounter. Read the Daily Mirror’s report on this incident here.