June 2015 – News

The Torquay Herald Express reported this month that there had been conflict between anglers and commercial fishermen off the popular angling mark of Hope’s Nose, Ilsham. Under the somewhat dramatic headline ‘Police called as Fish Wars erupt off Torquay’ it was reported that police had been alerted to the fact that commercial fishermen had been driven away from their fishing grounds by shore based anglers who were fishing for mackerel. The newspaper claimed that the fishermen – who were setting traps for cuttlefish could not get close to the places where their traps were set as anglers threw rocks at them as well as fishing weights and hooks. It is always concerning to hear about conflict between anglers and commercial fishermen, and fishermen certainly have the right to conduct their work without being threatened or attacked. Hopefully the ‘anglers’ who believe that it is acceptable to carry out this type of behaviour will be dealt with by the police, and Hope’s Nose will only be fished by people who can get along with commercial fishermen who are active in the area. Read the newspaper report of this incident here.

There have been an unusually high number of whales beaching themselves on British beaches over the last few years, particularly in Scotland. The activity of military vessels has always been thought to play a part in this, with the high powered sonar used by naval vessels is thought to confuse and disorient large marine mammals to the extent that they can beach themselves. However, The Guardian reported this month that Royal Navy bomb detonations were directly responsible for the beaching and subsequent death off the north coast of Scotland in 2011. The paper reported that the Royal Navy detonated several 1000lb (450kg) bombs which had been aimed at Garvie Island (a small rocky outcrop which is the target of live firing exercises) but fallen into the sea and failed to detonate. It was believed that the detonations affected the animals hearing and navigation and forced them to swim into an inland tidal estuary where they died when the tide went out. The MOD said that it had made changes to reduce the impact of live firing exercises and bomb disposal on marine mammals since 2011. Read The Guardian’s report here.

While shark attacks on humans are incredibly rare there were two distressing attacks on people off the coast of North Carolina this month. A twelve year old girl lost an arm when she was attacked by a shark while in the sea off an area called Oak Island, and just hours later a sixteen year old boy lost his arm at the shoulder when he was attacked while in the water less than two miles away. Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said that it was “common sense” to believe that the same shark was responsible for both attacks. The beaches were not closed after the first attack as it was believed that there was not enough time to establish what had happened and raise the alarm. Although the beaches were closed after the second attack they opened again shortly afterwards, despite reports that sharks were still present in the area. It is thought that spinner sharks or blacktip sharks were responsible for the attack, both species feed mainly on fish and are only thought to attack humans through mistaken identity. Both the boy and the girl were receiving hospital treatment in the days after the attacks, and both were described as being on the road to recovery. Read the Daily Mail’s take on this story by clicking here.

June 8th was World Oceans Day, and a number of celebrities took part in the Fishlove campaign to mark the day. Fishlove is a British charity which gets celebrities to pose naked with strategically placed marine species protecting their modesty. This time the celebrities involved included Dame Judy Dench who posed with a lobster, and Julie Christine who was pictured lying down with small fish, seaweed, shells and small sharks. Celebrities who have taken part in the campaign in the past include Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson, Sir Richard Branson and Sir Ben Kingsley. View pictures of the celebrities on the Fishlove website here.

Swedish man Erik Axner caught a halibut which was estimated at 222lb and was 6ft 6inches in length off Norway’s Lofoten Islands. The fish was caught on a 4lb coalfish bait which had been presented on a float rig. After battling the fish for around an hour Axner managed to get it to the boat he was on. However, the fish was too big to bring on board so Axner jumped in the water to pose for photographs with it! After the photos were taken, and to his great credit, the fish was released. Watch the Youtube video of the fish being caught and then released here.