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Natural England - Statement in response to Press Release issued by Scallop Association, South West Inshore Fisheries Association & South Western Fish Producer Association

Statement in response to Press Release issued by Scallop Association, South West Inshore Fisheries Association & South Western Fish Producer Association

27 February 2009

Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England said: ”The UK Scallop Dredging Industry is quite wrong to believe that we have no interest in consultation or to claim that we have an agenda to close inshore scallop fisheries area by area.

The scallop industry is an important one that we wish to support it in its efforts to move to a more sustainable footing. It is important that dialogue continues because it is only through ongoing communication that we will collectively be able to hammer out the often difficult agreements that are needed to secure a sustainable future for our seas.

So it is unfortunate that the representatives of the UK Scallop Dredging Industry are choosing to respond to comment in this way. An industry that looks to shut its doors to dialogue at the first sign of public criticism is in denial about the impact it has had. However you choose to word it, Lyme Bay was on the critical list and last year's closure of scalloping activities - taken after nearly a decade of monitoring - was a necessary decision. Only by taking this action was there any prospect of restoring the Bay's delicate marine environment, which has suffered extensive damage after years of over-intensive scallop dredging and trawling. The fact is we need a better balance between the exploitation and the protection of our marine environment. Taking this position is sometimes unpopular, but it is important to be honest and robust about the widescale environmental damage that has taken place and the need to address it.

Our door remains wide open. We hope that the UK Scallop Dredging Industry will recognise that a sustainable future for the scallop interests their members rely on depends on their door being open too.”

ENDS

For further information contact: Julian Lloyd, Media Relations Manager, 07500 992116; julian.lloyd@naturalengland.org.uk

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