August 2022 – News

Woman suffers leg injury after being bitten by a shark off the coast of Cornwall: Many media outlets reported on a woman being bitten by a shark while snorkelling off the coast of Cornwall. The incident happened at the end of July but only came to light this month. Few specific details of the attack have been made public, but the local press reported that the woman had been snorkelling to view blue sharks as part of an organised event and was bitten on the leg. Blue shark attacks on humans are extremely rare, and the species is responsible for only a handful of deaths in recorded history. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Two men sentenced for illegal fishing: Two men from Sunderland have been sentenced for illegal salmon and trout fishing on the River Wear. Connor Bell and Michael Hutchinson used unlicensed gill nets to catch the fish but were themselves caught when they posted pictures and videos of themselves posing with the fish on social media. Both men were sentenced at South Tyneside Magistrates Court this month, with Bell being given five months imprisonment which was suspended for eighteen months and Hutchinson given two months imprisonment, also suspended for eighteen months. In addition, they were ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and were each ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £128. District Judge Garland told the defendants that the offences they had been charged with were “extremely serious” and were not “boyish pranks” and added that they were lucky that they were not “going on a trip to Durham [prison] this morning.” Click here to read more on this story.

Spider crabs swarm Cornish beaches: Many media outlets picked up on the news story that thousands of spider crabs have swarmed across beaches in south west England. The crabs made their way into the shallow water off the coast of St Ives and surrounding areas to shed their shells before moving back into deeper water. While the species is common off the south west coast of England they do not usually gather in such numbers and it may be the case that rising sea temperatures are changing the crab’s behaviour. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Angler reels in – and then releases – 400lb halibut: A British angler has caught, and then released, a huge halibut which weighed 400lbs. Paul Stevens from Norwich caught the fish off the coast of Northern Norway. He used a dead coalfish as bait and fought for twenty minutes to reel the halibut in and added that it took him three days to recover from the exertion of battling against the fish. He posed alongside the fish in the water as it was too large to bring on board and the fish was released after being photographed. Read more and see pictures by clicking here.

300lb porbeagle shark caught (and released): A boat angler caught a 7-foot long, 300lb porbeagle shark off the coast of the Isle of Wight this month. Lorry driver Ray Breton from Hampshire took an hour to reel in the shark and saw his fishing rod snap during the battle. He was, however, eventually able to bring the shark alongside his boat where it was measured and then released. Ray, who has caught a number of sharks before, told the Daily Mirror that this one seemed “angrier than usual.” Read more and see pictures of the shark by clicking here.

Deep sea mining talks end without agreement: Deep sea mining may start as soon as next year after negotiations in Kingston, Jamaica ended without any form of agreement being reached. In 2021 the Pacific nation of Nauru announced plans to begin deep sea mining in its waters. This triggered a two-year period in which the International Seabed Authority (ISA) had to agree with all nations that plan to mine the deep seas. The agreement would set out the regulations and environmental monitoring which will apply to deep sea mining, but if no agreement is reached then nations will be free to mine the deep seas in whichever way they see fit from 2023 onwards. The deep sea contains rare and extremely valuable metals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese which are used in everything from electronic devices to the batteries of electric cars. Demand for such metals will continue to grow but scientists and environmentalists have warned that mining the seabed for these metals will cause immense damage to vulnerable deep sea ecosystems which science has yet to fully understand. Click here to read more on this story.

10ft-long swordfish spotted off the coast of the Isle of Man: A conservation charity has reported that a swordfish has been spotted in the waters of the Isle of Man for the first time. The 10ft (3 metre) long swordfish was observed by members of the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch while they were carrying out a survey of marine life in the island’s waters. Swordfish are usually found in the Mediterranean and the warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean around the equator although it is believed that rising sea temperatures may make them more common around the British Isles in the coming years. Read more here.

Fishing ban would ‘rip the heart out of Holy Island’: A proposed ban on commercial fishing in the waters around Holy Island would put the future of the island at risk, according to locals. Holy Island (also known as Lindisfarne) is located off the coast of Northumberland and is connected to the mainland by a mile-long causeway which is covered by the North Sea twice a day during high tide. Around 10 per cent of the island’s population of 150 people work in the fishing industry as crab and lobster potters. However, plans to make the area a highly protected marine area (HPMA) would ban all forms of fishing in a fifty-mile zone to the north of the island. This would exclude the low-impact crab and lobster fishing carried out by Holy Island fishermen. Residents have warned that this would force many fishermen to quit the fishing industry meaning they would have to return to the mainland with their families. In turn, this would put the future of the island at risk as the reduced number of residents would leave insufficient workers for the island’s pubs, restaurants, hotels and broader tourism industry. The owner of a restaurant on the island told the Telegraph: “My staff on the island are families of the fishermen. If the fishery closes, my business will suffer because I cannot get the staff from the mainland due to the tides. Also, eating fresh Holy Island crab is a major part of the tourist experience here.” John Bevan, the clerk of Holy Island Parish Council, also told the Telegraph that there was “shock and dismay” on the island as they only found out about the proposed fishing ban through a newspaper article last month, and only have until next month to put forward their evidence against the ban. Read more on this article by clicking here.

Greenpeace to drop boulders into the sea off the coast of Cornwall: Environmental activists from Greenpeace are to resume their campaign of dropping boulders into the sea to stop commercial trawlers from operating. Greenpeace has previously carried out the same actions in the North Sea in the Dogger Bank area which promoted a legal challenge against the organisation which was later dropped. The new campaign will see Greenpeace’s ship Arctic Sunrise drop boulders across the area known as South West Deeps which is located around 200 miles off the coast of Land’s End in Cornwall. While South West Deeps has been designated as a marine protected area (MPA) it has not been given any special protection meaning commercial fishing can still take place within it. Greenpeace says that South West Deeps is one of the most heavily fished MPAs, with satellite data showing that 110 vessels spend around 19,000 hours fishing in the area in the last eighteen months. Greenpeace’s UK executive director told ITV news that the dropping of boulders was a “last resort” but was necessary because “the future of the UK’s oceans is hanging in the balance, and we’re running out of time to save them from industrial fishing, habitat destruction and climate change.” Read more on this story here.

Attempts to pass global ocean treaty fail: The fifth and supposedly final attempt to pass a treaty which would protect the high seas has failed after talks in New York ended without an agreement being reached. The negotiations took place over two weeks and involved 168 countries plus the European Union. The aim was to establish marine protected areas as well as share information on environmental impact assessments and assistance for developing countries. If an agreement had been reached then protected marine areas would have been established and limits set on the amount of fishing which could take place on the high seas and the areas where seabed mining could take place. However, no consensus could be reached on fishing rights and exploiting the arctic, which is becoming more accessible due to polar ice melting, also proved a sticking point. It is still possible that talks will resume, although a deadline of the end of the year has been set for any agreement to be reached. Click here to read more on this story.

Sewage warnings for UK beaches: This month a number of sewage warnings were issued for beaches around the UK as heavy rainfall led to untreated sewage being discharged into the sea. The majority of the affected beaches were around England’s south coast including Bognor Regis and Shoreham Beaches in West Sussex, beaches in Southend-on-Sea in Essex and Newquay and Looe beaches in Cornwall, although Morecambe and North Yorkshire also had sewage warnings issued. Southern Water – which was fined a record £90 million last year for deliberately discharging sewage into the sea – said that the releases were made to prevent flooding and were 95 to 97 per cent rainwater, meaning they should not be described as “raw sewage.” Read more on this story here.

Stricter controls proposed on the transport of nurdles: Nurdles – small pellets which are the raw material plastic is made from – should be classed as a hazardous substance and additional procedures should be put in place when they are transported, according to the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations. Last year the X-Press Pearl, a container ship, caught fire and sank off the coast of Sri Lanka, releasing around 1,680 tons of nurdles into the sea. The incident was one of the worst environmental disasters in Sri Lanka’s history with billions of nurdles washing up on the nation’s beaches and leading to the deaths of marine animals such as whales, dolphins and turtles. A similar incident happened in 2020 when thirteen tons of nurdles were lost off the coast of Norway from the vessel Trans Carrier and washed up across the coastline of several Scandinavian countries. The International Maritime Organization now says that stricter procedures should be used when nurdles are transported to minimise the chances of such incidents happening again. A spokesperson from the International Maritime Organisation told the Guardian: “There need to be immediate steps taken to regulate and better coordinate the handling, management, and transportation of plastic pellets through the entire supply chain. Voluntary plastic industry initiatives are not sufficient.” Read more on this story by clicking here.