March 2021 – News

All types of angling allowed from the end of March: The Angling Trust has confirmed that all forms of angling will be permitted from the 29th of March as the lockdown measures which have been put in place to restrict the spread of coronavirus are eased. While recreational angling was permitted to take place during the most recent lockdown it was only allowed as a form of exercise and anglers were restricted to fishing within their local area. From the end of March match fishing, charter boat fishing and night fishing, all of which were prohibited under the previous lockdown, will once again be able to take place. However there are still some restrictions: charter boat trips will be limited to six people (the rule of six), anglers should only travel as far as is reasonably necessary to go fishing, and fishing should not be used as a pretext for other activities which are still banned until later in April (such as overnight camping). Fishing tackle shops will also not open until April 12th, although they can operate on a click-and-collect basis until then. Read more by clicking here.

Netflix’s Seaspiracy documentary causes controversy: A new documentary that was released this month has proved controversial and divided opinion with its depiction of the commercial fishing industry. Seaspiracy was produced by Netflix and released on the platform this month. It covers a wide range of topics relating to commercial fishing and includes contributions from well-known figures such as author and scientist Professor Callum Roberts and the environmentalist George Monbiot. While many have praised the documentary for lifting the lid on many of the damaging aspects of the commercial fishing industry others have criticised Seaspiracy for containing inaccuracies, taking a biased anti-commercial fishing perspective and misrepresenting the views of contributors. The Marine Stewardship Council, Scottish salmon farming industry, Oceana (the world’s largest marine conservation charity) and many other organisations which were featured in Seaspiracy have released statements directly addressing their objections to the documentary. Seaspiracy is currently available to view on Netflix and an article in the Independent covering the controversy it has caused can be viewed here.

Major companies to back temporary ban on deep sea mining: In recent years there has been increasing pressure to allow mining of the seabed in a number of deep sea locations. Major deposits of rare metals which are an important component in batteries for electric cars, mobile phones and other electronic devices could be uncovered, but conservationists have warned that such mining would have a terrible impact on the world’s marine environment. This month a number of global companies, including Google, Volvo, BMW and Samsung, who would be the main customers for such metals, have said that they will refuse to use metals that have been gained by deep sea mining until more research has been carried out into the environmental consequences. The announcement from the companies will come as a major blow to countries such as Norway which has said that it could allow deep sea mining in its water from 2023. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Skate nursery to be established off Scottish coast: An area off the Isle of Skye where endangered skate lay eggs is to be protected by the Scottish government by making it an MPA (Marine Protected Area). Skate were once common around the British Isles but overfishing and habitat destruction have seen their numbers plummet in recent decades. They are now classed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which means that they are at imminent risk of extinction in the wild. The MPA to protect the skate will initially be in place for one year, although it could be extended following a consultation and further impact assessments. Read more on this story on the BBC website by clicking here.

Trawling banned off Sussex coast to restore seaweed beds: Damaging seabed trawling has been banned in an area covering 117 square miles (304 square kilometres) off the coast of Sussex. Dense seaweeds beds in the area provide a habitat and breeding ground for a range of fish species as well as seahorses, squid, cuttlefish and crustaceans. While storm damage has caused some of the seaweed beds to recede it has been trawling and the dumping of sediment by dredgers which has caused the most damage. Local campaigners have demanded that the area is closed to trawling to allow the area to recover, with prominent environmentalists such as Sir David Attenborough joining their cause. The Guardian reported that scientists and volunteer divers and now measuring the remaining areas of kelp and seaweed which are present so that the growth of new seaweed beds can be measured. Click here to read more on this story.

Seabed trawling releases as much carbon as the aviation industry: New research published in the leading academic journal Nature has found that commercial trawling of the seabed releases as much carbon as the entire aviation industry. Trawling causes carbon to be released from the seabed sediment into the water and causes acidification and reduces biodiversity. The study calculated that on average one gigaton of carbon was released annually by seabed trawling, compared to the 918 million tons generated by the aviation industry. The countries which caused the highest levels of carbon emissions through trawling were Russia, Italy, Britain, Denmark, China, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Croatia. The research was carried out by a team of twenty-six scientists and experts, although they also estimated that ninety per cent of the emissions could be prevented by only protecting around four per cent of the world’s seabeds from trawling, and the countries which are the worst culprits for trawling would have the most to gain in terms of higher productivity and biodiversity by protecting more of their seabeds from commercial fishing. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Fish fraud could be happening on a global scale: An analysis of samples of seafood compiled by the Guardian has found that as much as forty per cent of global seafood could be mislabelled. In the overwhelming majority of cases lower value fish were mislabelled as higher priced species, indicating that the fraud was intentional and not a case of fish being carelessly or accidentally misidentified. The study used a new DNA analysis technique and drew together research from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of Asian countries. It was found that species within the same family were often mislabelled, such as Japanese scallops being listed as the more valuable king scallops and around forty-five per cent of shark were labelled as lower value species. In one case prawn balls sold in Singapore were made entirely from pork and did not contain any prawn at all. With seafood and fish being one of the most widely traded food products in the world with complicated supply chains the Guardian article points out that there are many opportunities for unscrupulous importers and fishermen to falsely label species and very little chance of being caught. Fish mislabelling could cost between £19 and £26 billion per year on a global basis, and can only be reduced through international cooperation. Read more here.

EU accused of “neo-colonial” actions in catching tuna in the Indian Ocean: The EU has been accused of n”eo-colonial” plundering of yellowfin tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean by a number of countries in the region. African and Asian countries border the Indian Ocean, along with Australia, but the European Union catches the most yellowfin tuna in the area with its distant water fleet (although this is made up almost entirely of vessels from France and Spain). The EU has angered Indian Ocean nations by putting forward weak proposals to restore yellowfin tuna stocks by offering just a six per cent reduction in catches while continuing to take more yellowfin than any other nation. Maldives fisheries minister Adam Ziyad was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “It is nowhere near the required reduction levels to ensure we conserve the yellowfin stocks for our future generations. If they [the EU] were serious, they would take a bigger hit and they would work with coastal states to have a better management plan.” Further anger comes from the fact that nations such as the Maldives (which has one-fifth of its economy based on fishing) use sustainable pole and line methods, while EU vessels catch yellowfin by using Fish Aggregating Devices which cause high levels of bycatch and also catch immature and juvenile tuna. Greenpeace called the EU’s proposals “outrageous” while Stephen Ndegwa from Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture said: “The foreign fishing vessels, like the EU vessels, will move to other oceans, but we won’t be able to move – and we will be stuck with no fish.” Read more on this article by clicking here.