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Move to save fish stocks

PUBLISHED: 10:23 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 03 July 2010

Angling by Roy Webster



The most encouraging development so far by the authorities to save important and endangered salt water fish from the threat of extinction in our coastal waters is revealed in the forthcoming Marine and Coastal Access Bill whose second round of consultation has started following last month's Royal Assent.

Angling by Roy Webster

The most encouraging development so far by the authorities to save important and endangered salt water fish from the threat of extinction in our coastal waters is revealed in the forthcoming Marine and Coastal Access Bill whose second round of consultation has started following last month's Royal Assent.

Following the success of limited experimental no-go trawling zones in the North Sea to protect the spawning grounds of the diminishing numbers of cod, the new Bill will seek to establish marine protection zones around the whole coastline of England and Wales.

And the message to all sea anglers is: keep up to speed with the consultation process.

As major stake holders in the battle to conserve fish stocks their participation in the decision making as to where rod and line anglers will be permitted to fish and the species they will be allowed to target, their input is vital.

The protected areas of sea will be known as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ's) and will link up in four distinctive administrative areas around the country incorporating the central and southern North Sea, the English Channel and round to St George's Channel and the Irish Sea.

Mick Bensley, secretary of the Hemsby Lifeboat Angling Club, said he welcomed any legislation that would protect east coast fish stocks.

“When they brought in no-go trawling areas on our cod spawning grounds a few years ago, it resulted in a significant upturn in numbers of fish along our coastline.

“We whole-heartedly support further protection zoning policies for any endangered species,” he declared.

That view was echoed by one of the east coast's top match angling organisers Tony Thomas, who said: “We have always insisted that banning trawl nets from the spawning grounds was the most important item in protecting our valuable fish species, and this latest proposal is absolutely the right thing to do.”

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), a charity whose remit is to protect all marine life, has set up an informative website so that anglers and all the public can follow the development of the MCZ plan and fulfil a direct input into the debate in order to protect long held freedoms to catch sustainable sea fish species.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt is the Bio Diversity policy officer for the MCS inviting visits to the website: www.yourseasyourvoice.com to state anglers' views by questionnaire or by direct statement.

“The Marine Bill is a milestone for marine conservation,” insisted Dr Solandt.

“Less then one per cent of the United Kingdom's seas are fully protected and we are campaigning to raise that to 30 per cent.

“We are looking for sites to be chosen based on the best scientific advice to ensure that important habitats and rare and endangered species are properly protected.

Small nursery areas will be detailed where all fishing activities, including angling, will be prohibited - although it is understood rod and line angling will be permitted in most MCZ's and buffer zones.

More can be discovered of the plan for the East Coast by logging onto www.netgainmcz.org

In the meantime, fishing conditions along the town's North Beach were ideal for the Hemsby Lifeboat midweek match, won by Adam Rossiter with 11lb 4oz.

His catch consisted of quality whiting and a 4lb codling, and the next two were John Symonds, with 7lb 6oz, and Maynard Watson wtih 5lb 12oz.

The fresh water open event at Burgh Castle resulted in Peter Woods 19lb 10oz, Richard Silverwood 15lb 12oz, Lee Arnold 15lb 3oz.

Potter Heigham Sea Anglers (Yarmouth): R Bell 2lb 13oz, H May 1lb 10oz, T Watson 1lb 8oz.

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