A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘scallop dredging’

Scallop Dredging on World Oceans Day, Not Green.

A few little coincidences occur over the last couple of days. The first was a circulated email about diving off the coast of Skye and observing the destruction of dredged scallop grounds. Then I was pointed to an article in the Scotsman issued from the PR bit of the SFF proclaiming how “green” scallop dredging is on the seabed environment. The email was written with no knowledge of the press release. I happen to know this as I am acquainted with the diver and trust what he says is true. Part of the email appears in the comments below the article with one or two other defences of dredging. The email is didacted a little taking out the names of boats to protect those involved from too much overt publicity. I have added one or two more parts.  Arran Coast’s campaign is referred to and this site is worth a visit. http://www.arrancoast.com I can say I have not dived on dredged grounds but the only defences I have heard up till now of the practise is the Atlantic storms do far more damage than dredging and there is always doubt cast on the veracity of the divers side of the story, no videos or photos so may not be true. IMG_9270 Also the fact that dived scallops are only 2% of market needs reflect on market needs rather than looking after the marine environment properly. If the market demands that dredging takes place then the market is out of sync with how we should be treating the scallop habitat. I read this email and found it straight from the heart and some one that despaired in what he saw. Some of what is taken out is the ridiculous and purely economic cycle that we are in. Scallop dredging has taken a bit of a hit with the high fuel prices and boats have been taken off the water. Now with a partial recovery and lower fuel prices there are more dredgers putting the cycle back on a downward spiral again. I do have dived photos taken by a diver further north IMG_9266 and taken after a dredger had been through the grounds of smashed sea life showing what damage is done to get dredged scallops to the market. IMG_9275 Dived scallops arrive on the market from an untouched environment. A footnote, the rise in fish stocks are brought into the discussion to rubbish scientific projections. No mention is made to the fact that the effort in catching has been reduced dramatically thus allowing the breeding biomass to strengthen stocks above danger levels. But nowhere like the levels of 40 or 50 years ago. These arguments are always brought up when defending industrial fishing practises. Working at the Inn yesterday where only dived scallops are sold, only creel caught langoustines with out berries are  sold and that goes for crab and lobster as well. I watched dived scallops being cooked to 9Q7Q9827 perfection and was safe in the knowledge, the scallops themselves were looked after, 9Q7Q9829 they were mature so they left a legacy behind and the seabed undamaged. 9Q7Q9831 None of these scallops left a damaged environment behind IMG_9276 unlike the dredged ones. IMG_9277 Good to get this out and about so people will know what they are eating and how it is brought to the table. The other coincidence is that it is World Oceans Day today. Anyway I will let you read for yourselves. http://www.scotsman.com/news/scallop-dredging-is-sustainable-and-green-industry-1-3793366 ”That day, we dived on some 30m boulder ridges off Glasnakille. These ridges usually produce a 50/50 mix of Scallops above 120mm and between 110-120mm. Dives of 20-30kg are expected. We found that the boulder ridges had been dredged heavily in the recent past. With smashed Crab and Sea Urchin still containing their meat and innards. I saw two heavily mangled balls of Crab creels during a dive here. The ridges had been physically altered since my last visit, four years ago. They were lower and the boulder which comprised them had been extensively scattered. The Kelp which had been on top of the ridges was lying, torn and limp on the seabed around the boulders. Scallops were in some cases fatally injured with chunks of shell and skirt torn out and in others completely smashed. We averaged 10kg per dive over 5 dives and gave up. It was heartbreaking. The ridges did not even resemble those in my memory… I was moved to the point of tears by what I saw there. I don’t need to describe it to you. I don’t know if I have the words. The place was fresh in my mind from the last time I had dived it and has been ruined beyond recognition with the “ploughed field” scenario heavily evident. Stones and boulders ripped up from under the sand/Maerl and fully exposed creating a Martian like surface. The partially recovered Maerl no longer evident etc etc…I urge you and your colleagues to continue your fight against the institutionalised stupidity of the current regime who purport to be in control of our fisheries and inshore resources. We did 7 more dives in this area and found the same scenario all over. Smashed Urchin, Scallop and Crab, ripped up Kelp, torn and dying Ananome, (sorry, I dont know their name but they are the ones which can grow over a foot tall and inhabit muddy, tidal areas). It was soul destroying. We need change in inshore fisheries and it can’t come soon enough. I fully support your campaign to improve management of our seas but, in my opinion, the buck stops with those who are paid and elected to do the job and make the decisions. It should not fall to the electorate to implement that which is plainly and obviously common sense.” I recently spent three weeks in the Firth of Lorn fishing from Cuan. I spoke to local Crab and Lobster fishermen who have seen their catches increase year on year since the ban, they are positive. I arrived there and left feeling that there is hope, feeling positive, buoyed by what I see there. I don’t boast about having a wide view of what is going on in our waters. It is just a fact. One week I am diving in Jura, the next, Sanday, Orkney, the next, Applecross bay, the next East Loch Tarbet, Harris. All I see is decline, apart from in the Firth of Lorn. Surely there is something to be gained from this experience?

Passive Fishing Rules.

Week ends are for recovery but not if it is summer and you work shifts at the Inn. Never mind, a good comatose night’s sleep and it was back on the water. That was after landing the large and extra-large for Sean to pick up to see them through the day till I landed later in the afternoon. When I did Steve told me they only had a starter portion left!! Another fairly uneventful day with just one fleet shot over to sort and another that had to be joined together as it was in two, but apart from these minor things it was another fairly poor day’s fishing although when I hauled the first ten creels of the first fleet of the day it was looking very rosy.


Some of these creels brought back memories of how the fishing used to be when you were cheesed off if you were not averaging 7/8 kilo of good quality langoustine per fleet. It is that difficult balance where you know that the environment is struggling to cope with what you do to it while it still looks after you by allowing you to make a comfortable, if tiring living.The only other note of interest was the first creel caught mackerel came on board, hopefully a sign that there will be more activity in the Sound over the next month or so.

I was sent some photos taken to the North of Applecross by a scallop diver and shows what is left behind when dredgers come through your locale.


This is something I bang on about a bit but it is good to get it out there. Most people look across the Sound and they see a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by stunning landscape and have little knowledge of what goes on on the seabed. How, we, as fishermen carry out activities that put the environment right to the edge of collapse. At least with creels it is a relatively selective form of fishing and most of what you cannot sell or eat can go back live and you leave the environment relatively undamaged.


Creeling if carried out with impunity can be part of this but as you see in today’s photo what can be caught with passive fishing methods and compare to what is left behind as a dredger comes in after scallops. The fact is that the dredger catches the most scallops on the third or fourth run. This is a result of the dredges levelling the ground so they can get to the scallops which tend to lie between the ridges.


What a way to fish. I remember either Reporting Scotland or Landward showing photos of dredged ground a couple of years ago and the only statement from the Scallop Dredgers Association was that the photos were photo shopped and it was a set up.


These photos were only taken in a ten square metres area of seabed and I was told that this destruction stretched out of sight in both directions but due to lighting conditions could not be shown clearly.


Unless legislation is passed to give the environment some sort of protection we will not have one that will provide anything of substance to survive on.

Images in the sun

Fabulous day on the water and in the garden. Although it started off seeing a scallop dredger heading north to find another piece of seabed to rip up. Probably the most destructive form of inshore fishing ever invented. Speaking to a scallop diver a couple of weeks ago and his description of some of the grounds on the west side of Skye was chilling. He reckoned they had reduced the sea bed to aggregate!!!

The blackback gull is always around at this time of year, always watching for bait and anything else. It is probably only out matched by the great skua. Although it has a really bad reputation it has a certain authoritative beauty.

Signs summer is arriving as the Ocean Spirit sails past Sand

And of course the garden. Makes the heart sing.

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