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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

How one UK start-up aims to stop illegal trawling and fishing.

What's an industry to make of this latest press release from ARC Marine, a south Devon based UK company servicing all requirements for artificial reef consultation, design and construction?

Read on:

A small Devon-based company aims to block illegal fishing boats and trawlers in the worlds’ oceans by deploying artificial reef structures on the seabed of marine-protected areas.

Virgin StartUp-backed ARC Marine has warned against a reduction in action against illegal fishing, a multi-million-pound activity, which is putting marine life at risk, normalising the catching of “blackfish”, and allowing those convicted of major crimes to continue fishing.

Commercial fishing is extremely vulnerable with 53% of the world’s fisheries fully exploited, and 32% over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.
At the current rate of fishing, the world’s seafood stocks will be depleted by 2048.
In the UK, only 4% of the surrounding waters are Marine Protected Areas (MPA).

“It’s a terrifying prospect to imagine all the species we currently fish for food becoming extinct within a few decades” says Tom Birbeck, ARC Marine’s co-founder. “So we have to act fast and reverse these trends.

“With pirate fishing becoming so widespread, we need to deter this practice in a way that doesn’t require constant physical policing.

“Our artificial structures can be interlocked to form large megalithic subsea structures, which would prevent towed fishing gear being used on the seabed where they are deployed.

“We like to call them ‘sleeping policemen’”.

Aside from preventing illegal fishing, ARC Marine’s man-made reefs provide a protective marine habitat for endangered and declining species, boost the stocks of overfished species and protect coastlines and underwater habitats from erosion – something that poses a significant risk to our environment.

“Considering that 93 per cent of CO2 is stored in algae, undersea vegetation and coral, preventing marine degradation is crucial to protecting the earth’s atmosphere.” Warns Birbeck.
Although there are established Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in the UK, government bodies responsible for management have voiced concerns about small budgets and a lack of planning.

Marine conservation expert Prof. Callum Roberts at the University of York criticised the MCZs as useless “paper parks” that offer no real protection from the dredging and trawling that has devastated large areas of England’s seas for decades.

Chair of the environmental audit committee (EAC) committee, Joan Walley MP, complained about a lack of strategy in place to rebuild damaged habitats. He said the government must stop trying to “water down” its pledge to protect UK waters and “move much more quickly” to establish further protection zones and ensure they can be enforced.

Birbeck affirms that ARC Marine’s structures are the solution, able to act as “sleeping policeman” within MPA and MCZ designated areas:

“Our artificial reef structures can be connected to form massive subsea structures. These can cause considerable damage to towed fishing gear – which will deter pirate fishermen from entering the area as they don’t want to risk damaging their equipment.

“Boat users can also use our reefs as moorings, without the need for anchors which can also damage a range of marine habitats.”

Permanent seabed structures would allow government bodies such as the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to save time and resources on patrolling protected waters. It is impossible to police these areas 24/7 and the illegal fishing industry knows this. ARC Marine’s solution negates the need for regular patrols, thus saving time, money and resources – as well as offering a more carbon-friendly solution than fueling boats to cover the area.

GPS trackers for fishing vessels are currently voluntary. These devices record the location of vessels every 1-2 hours, but are unable to detect towed equipment.

Birbeck believes that his small Torbay start-up can tackle illegal fishing and become a world leader in ocean conservation. However, he says that the UK government must set a precedent when powers over fisheries are retuned to Westminster.

“With Article 50 now triggered, the UK government must set out its own regulations for phasing out bottom trawling and replacing the process with more sustainable fishing methods.

“By doing so the UK could become a world leader in sustainable fishing.”

ARC Marine is currently crowdfunding to build the world’s first multi-purpose, modular artificial reef and marine habitat. By being part of the crowdfunding campaign you can help secure the future of our oceans.

April Trawler issue from PECH - Committee on Fisheries.



Monday, 24 April 2017

Monday morning market mayhem!


This mornings dawning sky has a distinctly watery look to it...


though the harbour looking southwards looks benign enough, time will tell...


despite there being only the one beam trawler putting fish on the market this morning the landings board was full with fish from 18 boats..


including the netter, Ygraine...


and the port's pollack handline specialist, Sea Spray...


there were boxes as far as they eye can see...


big fish were very much in evidence including two good shots of ray...


and turbot from netters using different kinds of gear fishing different areas...


giving the buyers plenty to choose from...


many of the local fleet like the Brit are members of the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme - currently we are waiting for news of a Responsible Fishing Scheme for ports which will help guarantee the quality of fish and greatly simplify the amount of administration required to do so...


along with the netters several of the visiting fleet of big Scottish trawlers landed over the weekend - hence the ray being winged to ease the task of boxing such big fish...


with the boats fishing west of the Scillys some of its local residents have put in an appearance, like these zulus...


plenty of a fish far more familiar to the kilted Celtic cousins, whiting...


more signs that summer is on the way with an increase in the number of John Dory being put ashore...


other white fish like haddock...


and megrim are more familiar to the local fleet...


while a perennial favourite of the BBQ brigade are red mullet from the ex-French stern trawler, Nicola Anne...


another fish found further west, but a little magic is needed to identify these beauties...


fish inhabiting different locations tend to blend in with the bottom type they live on, hence the difference in colour exhibited by these Dover sole...


down the quay the Joy of Ladram takes on new nets...


chain saws make light work of sawing these big tree trunks...


being used to provide new quay fenders...


detail of the rubbing strip...


kind of dog-like features on some...


the skies over Mount's Bay were busy enough with passing air traffic it seems.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Fishing films at Newlyn Filmhouse in aid of the RNLI


Cornish Sardines and the Gillnetters of Newlyn




Two locally made historic amateur films Cornish Gold is a short film shot in 1960 following the pilchard from the sea to processing works.

The Gillnetters of Newlyn shot in 1990 follows PZ 41 The Ocean Spray on a five day, 160 mile fishing trip out of Newlyn. The usual distributors fee will be donated to the RNLI.



Book your tickets online - Newlyn Filmhouse offers excellent food and drinks available in what was Turner's Fish Factory!

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Little Rascal - Chris Tyler.

There's another side to the fishing industry to that of the many families born and bred to that way of life. Plato said, " There are three sorts of men, the living, the dead, and those that go down to the sea" - and a more extreme example of one of those attracted to go down to the sea for the adventure and rewards that fishing offered was a certain Chris Tyler.

At the time this was post the 60s Beatles, early 70s Beach Boys, Pink Floyd were always in the LP charts, Party 4s, Mateus Rosé and handful of illegal substances, the Vietnam War raged , 'discos' were the thing and a generation of teenagers was able to afford holidays far away from home.

Then, fishing provided a means to earn some money for anyone willing to take a chance, learn fast and graft.  As a young man barely out of an Essex technical college where he studied architecture, Chris found himself living in the far west of Cornwall financed partly through trips aboard local fishing boats as and when needed.  Practical, gregarious, willing, fun-loving and always on the look out for something different and new Chris fell in with a similar band of troubadours with one thing in common - surfing - at a time when you could count the number of good UK surfers on one hand.

In the wider world, the quietly and well spoken Chris is best known for creating the Uk's first surf club, Skewjack Surf Centre near Sennen in the early 1970s. Thousands of people all over the world no doubt fondly remember their time at Skewjack as the best ever - such was its reputation - though in the end, being featured on the BBC Holiday programme in '76 was its undoing as pure a Beach Boys, West Coast surf centre! However, for Chris there was much more to follow including recreating Skewjack as a holiday destination for disadvantaged kids and creating Penzance's own unique Chelsea style Arts Club in Chapel Street.

However, Newlyn will remember Chris as a fisherman or more accurately as a trawlerman, especially when he skippered his own boat, Le Petite Raleur (aptly translated as, The Little Rascal). Local surfers at the time like John Adams, Wog Wilson, Mike Cattran, Harvey Hall, Kevin Hanley and many others, some of whom, like Joe Crow, also fished - a heady mix of surfers, fishermen and many more frequented Newlyn's most notorious pub, the Swordfish - helping, in part, to develop its reputation as the pub for the hardest working and hardest partying punters in the west.

Today, in an age driven by due regard for Health & Safety and a myriad of legislative devices, fishing is not the unfettered bastion of the free spirited adventurer that it used to be - it is still one of the most rewarding and demanding of ways to make a living but not without the unfettered freedom that pervaded when Le Petite Raleur and her motley crew passed through the gaps - the world has moved on.

Chris died back in November last year with a passing touch of irony on Guy Fawkes day aged 77. Tomorrow, there is a memorial service at 1pm in Paul Church followed by a chance to toast the life of someone who was truly instrumental in giving the far west of Cornwall its own unique blend of creative, hard but fun-loving, work culture.  The Coastguard in Mousehole will play host to an after service session from 2.30pm.


Fishermen living in a police state - makes the Stazi and Big Brother look benign!




Brackan's Spirited Ladyy in Newlyn.

Here's an example of what has happened to the fishing industry and how closely monitored its operations have become - now, almost the entire fleet are policed remotely using a VMS (vessel Monitoring System) that tracks their every move. 

Fishermen have to pay for the privilege of being watched 24/7 and maintain the equipment directly from what comes out  out of the cod-end - which they are happy to do - but, if for any reason the system fails, they are immediately contacted by the MMO who insist that they report their position manually every 4 hours and return to port immediately to fix the problem - when they will be detained until they have done so!...



This is exactly what happened to the Spirited Lady III yesterday - 


"That's the boat tied up and not aloud to go to return to sea until our VMS is working properly. At the cost of owner, skipper and crew. Hopefully electrical engineer down in the morning to repair unit and we only lose 24 hours fishing. How many other boats have had this problem? And how much time lost?"😡😡😡😡



After posting on social media the skipper was inundated with responses of even more draconian treatment to other skippers in similar positions:

"Up in court for it next month over 18mth ago to. Boats 11.98m but there's is the only rule in the whole of shipping vms is overall so they got us. Total farce the whole lot there more concerned if we are fishing in one of there closed boxes rather than our position if we were lost says it all."

"We were the very same,our VMS stopped working and the only way we were allowed to return back ta sea was when the VMS engineer said he had no parts to repair and we needed a new unit"
"We had ta email every 4 hrs or lat en long
its a complete heap of rubbish that and all the mmo and marine scotland are doing is gold plating idiotic rules on vms"
"We are paying for the signal and repairs,we paying for a rope to hang ourselves,fishery office,immigration,use it to our disadvantage when we gonna learn"
"I had the same the other day- it's ok as long as you stop at sea- as soon as you come in you're buggered- I have a spare unit on the boat if you get stuck- ours was the aerial connection underneath the unit so just had to replace the aerial wire-"
"I had a conversation with a man from AST, as I had no signal in Fraserburgh harbour. He told me not to worry, as it's not 100% and there's a lot of areas you don't get a signal on VMS. I was amazed he said this, and even more amazed the fisheries are using something that's not 100% reliable. The whole things a joke"

"Up in court for it next month over 18mth ago to. Boats 11.98m but there's is the only rule in the whole of shipping VMS is overall so they got us. Total farce the whole lot there more concerned if we are fishing in one of there closed boxes rather than our position if we were lost says it all."
"Makes you wonder what would happen if it was over the weekend."

Remember, many of these boats are small inshore vessels, often skipper-owned with one or two crew - like the Spirited Lady III - they are not huge ocean-going factory ships or tuna purse seiners landing catches worth hundreds of thousands of £s! 

Foggy #FishyFriday in Poldark country.


Fish galore on a flooded F#FishyFriday fish market here in Newlyn with over 10 boats landing a superb range of inshore, line, trawl, beam trawl and netted fish...


including a brace of beautiful monk tails form the Helford boat, New Harmony...


probably the biggest landing of lemons in years from Brackan's Spirited Lady...


and a huge trip, sure to make young Roger Nowell drool, over John Dory from the Scottish prawn trawler who was working away west of the Scillys and a good sign that summer is on the way and the JDs will be moving eastwards to the shallower waters around the islands soon enough...


the beam trawler, AA landed some big turbot...


and with that much fish on the market the porters were having to pout their backs into it to keep up...


though one it seems took time out to do his very own Chaplin impersonation...


this time of year always sees good shots of ray from the trawl fleet...


with the odd, suitably named thornback sneaking into the cod end of the Shiralee...


along with a striking example of cod, that most big-headed of fish


the Govenek of Ladram came up trumps with box after box of gleaming turbot...


looking outside the morning was brightening up...


over some visceral monk tails...


and big hake...


from you know who...


all of which kept the big buyers busy bidding on these beautiful 'butt'...


name that silhouetted buyer...


blue skies over Newlyn...


while looking towards Marazion it appears that the St Michael's Mount has disappeared...


as a fog forms over the cold Marazion marshes...


and a heavy dew point picks out the nights work from the local spider population...


as the fog rolls seawards...


temporarily obscuring the Mount...


as time passes..


the Mount comes into view...


and it looks set to be a glorious day in the far west of the UK...



and maybe a chance for some lunch to appear in the webs.