May 2021 – News

Commercial fishing linked to higher carbon emissions: A news story on the BBC website this month reported that eating fish may be much less environmentally friendly than previously believed. It had been thought that fish was a low-carbon source of protein as they do not require the use of farmland or industrial feeds in the way that livestock such as cattle does. However, a new study published in the scientific journal Nature has stated that huge carbon sinks in the seabed which effectively lock carbon away are churned up by seabed trawling. This releases large amounts of carbon – around one gigaton per year which equates to two per cent of global carbon emissions. To put this into context the entire global aviation industry accounts for around two and a half per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. The commercial fishing industry said that it was not yet known how much carbon was released by seabed trawling and a spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said “While trawling can cause carbon to be released from sediments, the processes are complex and the overall impact remains unclear.” Read the full article on the BBC News website by clicking here.

Fishing increases in popularity across the UK during recent lockdowns: All forms of recreational fishing have seen a significant rise in popularity over the last year as the country has been locked down due to the coronavirus crisis. The Environment Agency has revealed that the number of freshwater rod licence applications have risen by fifteen per cent, with an additional 120,000 licences issued in 2019 compared to the previous year. Anecdotal evidence from sea fishing retailers and wholesalers also suggests an equivalent rise in the number of people going sea fishing. The rise has been put down to people having more free time during lockdown and parents looking for affordable activities for their children due to most sports being suspended during the recent lockdowns. The benefits fishing has on mental health, as highlighted by the popular Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer BBC programme Gone Fishing, is also believed to be behind the rise. Read more on this story on the Guardian website by clicking here.

Japanese town uses Covid funds to build giant squid: A coastal town in Japan has been criticised for using funds meant for the coronavirus recovery to build a structure of a giant squid. The squid, which is thirteen metres long and cost ¥25 million (approximately £165,000), is now on public display in the port town of Noto in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture. Officials from the town say that the structure will help attract tourists once the coronavirus crisis is over and will help to publicise the flying squid species which are a local delicacy. However, the town has been criticised for not using the funds for urgent support as Japan struggles with a rise of coronavirus cases. Read more and see pictures of the giant squid structure here.

UK and France clash over Jersey fishing dispute: Royal Navy patrol vessels HMS Severn and HMS Tamar were deployed to Jersey at the start of this month as tensions between Britain and France rose over a Brexit-related fishing dispute. Following Britain’s exit from the European Union, French fishermen no longer have an automatic right to fish in the waters of Jersey, and must now apply for a licence to fish in the area. This has infuriated many French fishermen who claim that they have fished freely in the waters of Jersey for generations. Around sixty French fishing boats gathered around Jersey and threatened to block access to the island over the dispute, while Annick Girardin, France’s minister for maritime affairs, even said that the electricity supply to Jersey (which comes through an undersea cable from France) could be cut off. A spokesperson for the British government was quoted in the Guardian as saying that this was an “unacceptable and disproportionate” response and the two Royal Navy vessels, both of which are armed with machine guns and cannons, were sent to the area. In response, France later sent two of its own naval patrol vessels to Jersey. Talks began to end the dispute, and despite one isolated incident of a French fishing boat ramming a British boat, no serious incidents were reported and the two Royal Navy ships were not required to intervene. Talks between Britain, France and the European Commission began to resolve the dispute and after a few days the French fishing boats had left Jersey waters, despite a spokesperson for the French fishermen saying little progress had been made. Click here to read more on this story.

Conservation project hopes to see endangered shad return to the River Severn: A new project has been launched to help shad – one of the UK’s most endangered species – recover in the River Severn. Allis and twaite shad live in the sea but travel up freshwater rivers to spawn. Their numbers have fallen dramatically over the last hundred years as dams, weirs and other barriers have blocked their migratory routes. Both species of shad are now protected under UK law and any anglers catching these species are legally required to return them to the sea. The Unlocking The Severn project is being carried out by the Canal & River Trust, Severn Rivers Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England and hopes to see 150 miles of the River re-developed to allow shad to travel along it. A recent study by Swansea University has found that ninety-nine per cent of Britain’s rivers have some form of barriers built across them. Read more on this story by clicking here.

UK’s resident killer whales spotted off Cornish coast: The only pod of killer whales which is permanently resident in British waters has been spotted off the coast of Cornwall. The pod is made up of eight killer whales which were identified as though the distinctive pattern around their eyes. They are usually found off the coast of the Hebrides in Scotland. Unfortunately, the UK resident pod have not produced a calf since monitoring began in the 1990s, with fears that long-lasting chemicals known as PCBs which were released into the sea in previous decades may have caused issues with their fertility. Read more on this story on the BBC website by clicking here.