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Natural England - Natural England welcomes consultation to protect marine life and scallop stocks in Falmouth Bay

Natural England welcomes consultation to protect marine life and scallop stocks in Falmouth Bay

10 March 2008

Damaging fishing methods used to collect scallops has to stop in areas where they might harm habitats and species, says Natural England today (Friday 7 March 2008) at the start of Defra’s consultation into closing the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to trawls and dredges.

Natural England advised Defra that the area should be closed to scallop dredging to protect the conservation interest of the site. Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive for Natural England said: “Natural England supports the closure of the SAC to harmful fishing gear. These sites are of international importance for their marine wildlife and as such these measures are appropriate to ensure it is safeguarded.

Defra has now put forward the proposal to close the area to all scallop collection as a trial which will be closely monitored to determine how such closures could benefit scallop stocks in closed areas and adjacent fisheries. A similar closure on the Isle of Man has demonstrated significant increases of scallop stocks within the closure, and a potential overspill effect in adjacent open areas.

Dr Phillips continued: “It is vital that action is taken to improve the health of our coasts and seas for the benefit of wildlife and the communities whose livelihoods depend upon them. Natural England is working with fishermen and fisheries management to deliver a sustainable future for the marine environment and the local economy.”

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Notes to editors:

1. For further information please contact the Natural England Press Office on 0845 603 9953, out of hours 07970 098005, email press@naturalengland.org.uk.

2. In the spring of 2007 a limited survey of the outer SAC was conducted by the Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee.  Evidence from this survey was presented at a meeting in September 2007 where a new revised voluntary agreement was also reached.  Natural England’s assessment of the survey data was that it did not change their general advice to close the SAC to scallop dredging. In order for scallop dredging to continue it is necessary to prove beyond reasonable scientific doubt that scallop dredging and other towed gears would not damage the features for which the site was designated.

3. Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.

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