New scallop byelaw protects south-west estuaries –

New scallop byelaw protects south-west estuaries Published:  25 May, 2005

A NEW byelaw to protect inter tidal habitat from mechanical scallop dredging in the Fal and Helford estuaries in Cornwall has been brought in by the Environment Agency.

The move comes after six local boats were observed dredging for scallops in Carrick Roads in the Fal estuary in the winter of 2002/03 and concerns were raised over the damage to sensitive habitat.

The Fal and Helford estuaries are the most south westerly in Britain and the largest in England. The site is part of a candidate European Special Area of Conservation (cSAC), which includes large areas of Falmouth Bay.

The area features a range of rare habitats including sandbanks, maerl, seagrass and gravel beds. All these are vulnerable to damage from this type of fishing.

Public pressure and concerns from English Nature originally resulted in scallop dredging being banned from this area for a period of 12 months from October 2003.

During this temporary ban the Environment Agency consulted extensively on the impact of the dredging. The clear result, supported by commercial fishermen, conservation and recreational organisations, was that mechanical scallop dredging is not compatible with the long-term sustainable management of the estuary.

The Environment Agency then formally applied to Defra with a proposed byelaw to ban dredging, which was introduced this February.

Simon Toms from the Environment Agency said: “We are confident that this byelaw will help secure and protect the sensitive and unique species and habitats present within the Fal and Helford estuaries. This move will benefit the environment and secure its future for the enjoyment of future generations.”

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