July 2020 – News

Angling Trust takes concerns over HPMAs to Environment Minister: The government’s long running plan to create a series of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the coastline of the UK has been controversial as many will still allow commercial fishing which is classed as sustainable to take place within them. This definition of sustainable does not rule out damaging forms of commercial fishing such as trawling and dredging, leading many to call the MPAs ‘paper parks’ which offer no real protection to the marine environment. The government has responded to this criticism by lunching the Benyon Review which called for HPMAs (Highly Protected Marine Areas) to be integrated into the existing and planned MPAs. HPMAs would ban all “extractive, destructive and depositional” activities, meaning that they would offer real protection to the marine environment as all forms of dredging, trawling and seabed mining would be banned. Anglers and the Angling Trust, however, have been dismayed to learn that this could also include rod and line fishing, placing this activity on the same level as some of the most destructive fishing practices such as dredging. This month Jamie Cook, CEO of the Angling Trust met with MP Rebecca Pow who serves as a minister at Defra. An article on the Angling Trust’s website stated that cook had outlined the anger which anglers felt that recreational fishing could be automatically banned in HPMAs and also outlined that cooperation with anglers may even be essential for HPMAs to succeed. Read the full article on the Angling Trust’s website by clicking here.

Angler seen throwing beer bottle at seal: Many national news outlets ran a story this month which showed pictures of an angler throwing an empty bottle of beer at a seal. The incident happened at Hope’s Nose in Devon and photographs show a man throwing the bottle at the seal after it apparently interfered with his line while he was fishing. The seal was reportedly hit on the back by the bottle and it then swam off. The BBC ran this story on its news website and further images of the incident were shown on social media. Read the BBC article by clicking here.

Warming seas will have huge impact on fish by 2100: An article in the Guardian this month stated that around sixty per cent of the world’s fish species will be unable to live in their current habitats if global warming reaches a worst case scenario of 4 – 5 degrees Celsius increase above pre-industrial temperatures. Drawing on research published in the journal Science the article says that a huge range of important commercial fish across the world will be affected such as Atlantic cod, Pacific salmon, swordfish and Alaskan pollock with the breeding patterns of fish also being disrupted. The North Sea, for example, will be too warm for cod to reproduce in by the end of this century. Ocean-dwelling fish may be able to adapt by moving to cooler water around the poles, but the impact will be catastrophic on migratory species and those which are geographically constrained to freshwater lakes and rivers. A best case scenario would be global temperatures rising by only 1.5 degree Celsius which would still see around ten per cent of fish species put at risk by the end of this century. Read more on this story on the Guardian website by clicking here.

Shark fin trade continues to thrive despite seizures and conservation measures: The global trade in shark fins has come under scrutiny this month after one of the largest ever seizures of illegal fins was made in Hong Kong earlier this year. The shipment contained twenty-six tons of shark fins from an estimated 38,500 sharks. Shark fins are big business with high demand from Asia where they are made into shark fin soup which is seen as a delicacy and luxury food in China despite being mostly tasteless. Fins are often removed while the shark is still alive and the creature is thrown back into the sea to die in agony. An article in this month’s Guardian examined the legal and illegal trade in fins and cited research which stated that one hundred million sharks were killed each year and over half of the global trade in shark fins passed through Hong Kong. While the Hong Kong authorities are increasing the amount of illegal shark fin shipments they are successfully intercepting there are calls for them to do more and for the illegal trade in shark fins to be classed under the highest category of serious and organised international crime. The article also featured a contribution from the shark conservationist Madison Stewart who had researched commercial shark fishing in Indonesia, the largest shark catching nation in the world. She found that five fishermen spent two weeks at sea catching more than fifty sharks and only made the equivalent of £53 each. She has set up Project Hiu which will giver Indonesian fishermen the opportunity to make a living from ocean tourism instead of catching sharks. Click here to read the full article on the Guardian website.

Basking shark dies on Yorkshire coast: A basking shark has been put down by authorities after becoming stranded on a beach in Filey Bay, North Yorkshire. The four and a half metre long shark was seen struggling in shallow water and was eventually found beached. Members of the coastguard and RNLI closed the beach and attempted to get the basking shark back out to sea but it swam round in circles and was listing over to one side and eventually beached itself again. Following this the decision was made to euthanise the shark. Basking sharks are the second largest species of fish in the sea and can be up to eleven metres in length. They are found in British waters in the summer months and are considered a threatened species. Read more here.

Girl hospitalised after weever fish sting: This month the Daily Mail reported that a 13-year-old girl was taken to hospital after standing on a weever fish. Lottie Dawson was at the seaside at Sutton on Sea in Lincolnshire when she stood on something sharp. Her mother, 37-year-old Nikki, initially believed that Lottie had cut her foot on a rock but realised it was a weever fish sting after she spotted a spike sticking out of the wound and Lottie’s foot began to swell up. Lottie ended up being taken to hospital and was given antibiotics and anti-tetanus treatment and returned home but ended up going back to hospital when her foot continued to swell up. She was eventually cleared to return home but the family has been told that the after effects of the sting could last for up to a year. When the Daily Mail first put this story on their website they said that the weever fish which had stung Lottie was five feet long (evidence of this can still be seen in the URL of the article). This would have surprised anglers as the species has a shore caught record of only 95 grams. The Daily Mail later corrected the story to state that the weever fish was five inches in length. Click here to read the story on the Daily Mail website.

Car tyres are a “significant source” of ocean microplastics: Airborne microplastics which come from car tyres are a much bigger source of ocean pollution than previously realised. As tyres wear down tiny fragments of rubber break away and are blown around by the wind until they eventually find their way into the seas and oceans. It is estimated that around 200,000 tons of microplastics from tyres end up in the oceans each year. Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research who led the project told the Guardian that the average tyre loses 4kg during its lifetime meaning they produce much more microplastic than clothes fibres. He also said that the tiny size of these particles makes them harder to track and identify as microplastic pollution and called for more research into airborne microplastic pollution and its impact on the oceans. Read more on this story by clicking here.