June 2021 – News

The Sun report on man “attacked by shark off coast of West Sussex”: An article in the Sun this month has stated that a man was left “bloodied” after he was “bitten by a shark” off the coast of Sussex. Des Butler was fishing on the 17ft boat Yeah Buoy when he caught a tope which was described in the Sun as being 6ft long but looks substantially smaller in the accompanying pictures. As he was unhooking the tope he received a bite on his leg, or as the Sun put it “the shark flipped round and clamped its razor sharp teeth on Des’s calf.” The tope was returned to the sea after it was eventually unhooked, or “wrestled overboard” according to the Sun. Many anglers would dispute the Sun’s claim that this series of events constitutes a “shark attack” and it is unclear how serious Mr Butler is being when he said that doctors told him he was lucky that the tope “hadn’t bitten and torn a piece of my calf away and that it hadn’t got any major veins or arteries.” Click here to read more on this story and see pictures of the ‘attack.’

Scottish government may take action to stop “industrial” fishing of sandeels: The Scottish government has expressed its concern over the amount of sandeels being caught by EU vessels off the nation’s coast. Currently, vessels from Denmark and Sweden are able to catch huge quantities of sandeels from Scottish waters, almost all of which are used to make feed for farm animals. This has led to fears that this could have a significant impact on Scotland’s seabird colonies which rely on sandeels as their primary source of food. Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie has stated that industrial fishing of sandeels has contributed to a fifty per cent reduction in Scottish kittiwake numbers. Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary MSP Mairi Gougeon said “It remains an overarching and long-held Scottish Government position not to support fishing for sand eel or other industrial species in our waters … I have committed to looking at the issue as a matter of urgency.” Read more on this story by clicking here.

Trawler Kirkella still barred from accessing Norwegian waters: The huge British-based freezer trawler Kirkella is still unable to access Norwegian fishing grounds, despite the UK and Norway signing a trade deal earlier this month. The Kirkella is over eighty metres long, displaces nearly 4,000 tons and cost £52 million to build. It reportedly provides ten per cent of the fish sold in British fish and chip shops and can catch up to twelve tons of fish in a single trawl. The Kirkella is used to catch whitefish such as cod and haddock and relies on accessing the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. It previously fished under an agreement with EU nations but this expired when the Brexit transition period ended in December 2020. Since then the owners of the Kirkella have been waiting for the UK government to reach a deal with Norway to allow the Kirkella to return to the waters of the non-EU Scandinavian nation. While the UK did sign a trade deal with Norway at the start of June, this did not grant access to the Norwegian waters for the Kirkella, meaning that the vessel continues to sit idle at its homeport of Hull. Speaking to ITV, the owners and crew of the vessel said that they had been betrayed by the government, and also pointed out that the newly-signed deal allows fish that have been caught by the Norwegian fishing industry to be imported by the UK tariff-free while stopping the Kirkella from accessing Norwegian waters. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Irish fishing fleet protest over impact of Brexit deal: The Irish fishing fleet has staged a protest over the impact which the Brexit fishing deal will have on their industry. A flotilla of trawlers gathered in Dublin Bay and proceeded up the River Liffey in single file to signal the crews and owners dissatisfaction at the outcome of the Brexit deal which was signed late last year while hundreds of other fishing sector workers and the families of fishermen also staged a co-ordinated protest in Dublin city centre. In the deal which was signed late last year EU nations agreed to reduce the amount of fish they caught in British waters and return this quota to UK fishermen over the next five years. The Irish commercial fishing industry has been disproportionally affected by this, losing fifteen per cent of their quota which equates to €43m (£38m), leading to the protests. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Concern over damaging ‘fly-shooting’ fishing being carried out in the Channel: A story in this month’s Guardian stated that a damaging form of commercial fishing known as fly-shooting is being allowed in the English Channel with no proper assessment carried out into its impact. Fly-shooting involves towing weighted nets behind a boat which are then closed to encircle a large area of seabed. The Guardian reports that this method of fishing can be used to catch whole shoals of fish and that small scale fishermen from both England and France have warned that this type of fishing is having a devastating effect on fish stocks. Environment Minister Victoria Prentis has argued that fly-shooting has a lower environmental impact than other forms of commercial fishing as it can be carried out by vessels that are lower powered and therefore have lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions than traditional fishing boats. However, the Guardian states that fly-shooting boats have between four and eleven times more “killing power” than conventional inshore fishing boats and Jeremy Percy, director of Low Impact Fishers of Europe was quoted in the paper as saying “we’re being told by our fishermen that it’s pointless going to sea when these boats have been through, because there’s nothing left.” There are seventy-five fishing boats that use this method in the Channel, fifteen of which come from the UK and the rest from EU nations. Click here to read more on this story.

Lab analysis of Subway tuna sandwiches fails to find tuna: An analysis of tuna sandwiches sold by Subway has failed to find the presence of any tuna DNA. The test was carried out when a New York Times journalist arranged for “more than 60in worth of Subway tuna sandwiches” to be sent to a laboratory that specialises in DNA analysis. In the results the scientists were unable to identify a species of fish that was present in the sandwiches. A spokesperson from the laboratory said that this meant that either there was no tuna in the sandwiches, or that tuna was present but it had been so heavily processed that it could not be identified. Subway has faced legal action earlier this year when two customers from California launched legal action alleging that Subway’s tuna sandwiches contained a “mixture of various concoctions” which were “blended together … to imitate the appearance of tuna.” Subway has strongly denied the claims and stated on its website that it only used “100% real wild-caught tuna.” Read more on this website by clicking here.

Cruise liners leave damaged seabed off Dorset coast: Cruise liners which have been moored off the coast of Dorset have caused significant damage to the seabed, according to the Dorset Wildlife Trust. The vessels have been laid up off the coast of Weymouth and Poole as cruises have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sonar scanning has shown that the anchors of the vessels have left “extensive scarring” on the seabed with grooves left on the seabed which were 60cm deep and five metres wide. Over seventy cruise vessels have arrived or departed from the area over the last year and Dorset Wildlife Trust has warned that there is a risk of “long-lasting impacts on a considerable area of seabed.” The companies which operate the cruise liners have stated that they have followed all maritime regulations and have only anchored in areas where they are permitted to do so. Read more on this story on the BBC News website by clicking here.

Government announced Highly Protected Marine Areas: The UK government has used World Oceans Day on the 8th June to confirm that new Highly Protected Marine Areas are to be trialled in England’s seas. These new areas will ban all activity that is damaging to the marine environment, including trawling and dredging. They will be added to the current Marine Protected Area network, which has designated sixty-four areas around the English and Welsh coastline for protection. However, the existing MPA scheme has been controversial as many forms of destructive fishing are still permitted within them. For example, all but two of the existing MPAs allow some form of seabed trawling, according to the conservation organisation Oceana. For these reasons the UK’s MPAs have been heavily criticised for the lack of real protection, they offer to the marine environment. Melissa Moore from Oceana called the new Highly Protected Marine Areas a “red herring” and said that the real priority should be banning seabed trawling in existing MPAs, rather than adding a new type of protected area. Read more on this story on the Sky News website by clicking here.

Greenpeace to use its own vessel to patrol MPAs: Greenpeace will launch its own patrols of the UK’s Marine Protected Areas, claiming that the government is not providing sufficient monitoring of the network and failing to stop illegal fishing within them. Drawing on the research provided by Oceana, Greenpeace has said that seabed trawlers spent 68,000 hours fishing within MPAs in 2020. They are now launching their own initiative named Operation Ocean Witness and will use their own vessel Sea Beaver to patrol MPAs. Chris Thorne, an oceans campaigner from Greenpeace UK said: “We will do our Government’s job for them, holding the most destructive fishing vessels to account and making sure our Government can’t hide the destruction taking place in our oceans.” Operation Ocean Witness will run from early summer to autumn of this year, with the Greenpeace vessel operating out of Newhaven. Read more on this story by clicking here.