Community of Arran Sea Trust (Coast) wants to shut down the Clyde prawn trawling fleet by closing the Clyde to our boats.
Coast cites a report describing the Clyde as being “so heavily fished that it is at risk of being emptied of almost all sea life”.
This contradicts fishermen’s observations over the past couple of years, as we are finding larger marks of fish and feeding on our echo sounders, and indeed are catching some species we have not seen for years.
A healthy ecosystem is when there is an abundance of the top predators and recent research indicates a seal population of more than 1000 within the Clyde area.
To sustain such numbers, seals require to consume 1500 tonnes of fish annually. This is not an insignificant amount when landings of white fish (cod, haddock, whiting and so on for the Clyde area, including the sound of Jura) are about 50 tonnes, whilst herring landings are some 700 tonnes.
Clyde seals consume fish equivalent to 10% of the white fish quotas for inshore waters on the west coast.
Porpoises are regularly sighted, as are nomadic dolphins and whales during the spring and summer months.
Gannets, gulls and other seabirds are abundant, many of which rely, as they have for generations, on fish from fishing vessels.
Admittedly there has been a lack of basking sharks. This could be due to a change of plankton feeding drift as large shoals were reported from Gigha to Islay last year.
Prawn trawling has been pursued since the 1960s and the stocks, according to scientists, are fished sustainably. Indeed, fishing effort probably peaked during the late 1980s, since when trawling effort has been reduced by 30-50%. Fish were exploited in the 1980s and 1990s by efficient seine-net and white fish pelagic trawling. There are now no vessels pursuing these methods within the Clyde area.
Commercial fishing has been blamed for all the woes associated with the marine environment.
In fact, every anthropogenic influence should be taken into consideration.
Do the people who support Coast think fishing families on the Clyde, many of whom can trace their fishing heritage back more than 100 years, would be party to the eradication of marine stocks which have sustained families for generations?
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