Monday, 23 November 2015

The great Cardigan Bay scallop debate following the world’s largest ever fishing impact study.

Showing no signs of let up after the publication by George Monbiot in the Guardian of an article refuting the sense of allowing scallop fishing in Cardigan Bay off the Welsh coast and there is now an open and frank exchange of views rattling across social media networks.

The story so far:

Scientists from Bangor University, working together with the Welsh Fishermen’s AssociationWelsh Government and Natural Resources Wales have published their findings from the world’s largest ever fishing impact study, funded in part by the European Fishery Fund.
Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was closed to scallop fishing in 2009. Research led by Bangor University has focused on understanding the amount of scallop fishing within the SAC that would be considered sustainable and that would not damage the conservation features of the area.
To do this, the team spent 18 months preparing to undertake a mammoth fishing experiment in which 12 different sites were fished at different intensities by commercial boats. The results of the fishing were compared to four areas left unfished. Having now established that the area can withstand a certain level of fishing, the next step in the work is to provide more information to further guide the agencies responsible to decide on future management measures, and if appropriate, for setting the level of fishing to be permitted. 
Professor Michel Kaiser who leads the Fisheries & Conservation Science Group at Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences said:
“This is the first study of its kind that provides information that would enable us to advise on the amount of fishing that the seabed within the SAC can tolerate, it provides the basis for a truly ecosystem based approach to management of a potential fishery in the area.”Most fisheries are managed according the target species, in this case scallops. Setting two thresholds, one for seabed disturbance and one for scallops would provide a strong incentive for fishermen to disturb as little of the seabed as possible.
Dr Gwladys Lambert who led the research said: “We learnt a huge amount from this study and we know that Cardigan Bay is very resilient to  scallop dredging but we now know precisely how much fishing can be considered to be sustainable. None of this would have been possible without the collaboration of the fishing industry and processors who worked incredibly hard to help us achieve this unique piece of science.” Relevant reports 59, 60 and 61 can be found at herePublication date: 13 August 2015

- See more at:

George Mobnbiot's response in the Guradian is here:

Subsequently, Mark Roberts - a scallop fisherman for twenty seven years who has worked the very grounds in at the centre of the study year-on-year questions Monbiot's logic - read on...

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

Since then the scientists who were responsible for the paper have added their own response from comments by 

Comment by Michel J. Kaiser, Jan Geert Hiddink & Gwladys Lambert

"Will Scallop Dredging in Cardigan Bay be an Environmental Disaster?"

Recently in the UK, George Monbiot, a well-known environmental journalist, criticised the Welsh Government for undertaking a public consultation about the possibility of allowing restricted amounts of scallop dredging (dragging nets along the bottom) within a legally protected marine conservation zone. In particular, Monbiot used a quote from Callum Roberts at the University of York to imply that the scientific study which led to this consultation was flawed.

To read the full response click here:

There is currently an open call for discussion and response online - all are encouraged to respond.

The Minister for Natural Resources has launched a consultation entitled ‘Proposed New Management Measures for the Scallop Fishery in Cardigan Bay’.
Start of consultation:14/10/2015
End of consultation:05/01/2016