Sustainable fishing – Why is sustainable fishing important?
At Keltic Seafare we passionately believe that sustainable fishing is extremely important for our marine environment. We are dedicated to ensuring our fishing methods are sustainable and do not harm the seabed or the species that live there.
Scallop dredging is thought to have the most severe ecological effect of all UK marine fisheries. This is because of the damage and mortality it causes to the seabed habitat and the species that live there. Most dredges used in the UK are heavy toothed dredges. These can weigh over two tonnes and penetrate deep into the seabed. Thus causing harm to the seabed habitat and other species nearby. They are not efficient at capturing the scallops therefore the dredgers have to do repeat tows which has further impact upon the area. According to the charity Open Seas, scallop dredging is the worst method of fishing for sea life because of the damage it causes. Depending on the habitat, the ecosystem can take up to 10 years to recover from dredging!
Although scallop dredging is widely considered to have the most damaging effect on marine life and the eco system, prawn trawling is a close second. It is estimated that Scottish Nephrops trawls (otherwise known as Dublin Bay prawns, langoustine or Norway lobster – we’ll call them prawns) cause more disruption to the seabed than any other European demersal fishery. The impact of the trawler to species that live in and on the seabed has been well studied and argued since the 14th century.
Prawn trawls are wide-mouthed nets which are weighted so they fall to the seabed. Often ‘rock-hoppers’ are fitted which are heavy rubber disks that act a bit like wheels.
A more sustainable way
Although both species can be caught in a few different ways, most scallops are caught by dredgers, most prawns from trawlers. Both of these fishing methods have a damaging impact on the seabed and the wider marine ecosystems. Fortunately there is still a way that we can enjoy these delicacies with a guilt-free conscience. The Marine Conservation Society advises people to look for and eat sustainably sourced fish and seafood.
There are ways to fish and catch seafood in a more sustainable and less harmful way. Firstly by avoiding the sensitive areas of our seas. This dramatically reduces the damage caused to the marine environment. Minimisation of the environmental impact can also be achieved with lower impact fishing alternatives.
The Marine Conservation Societies, Debbie Crockard (senior fisheries policy advocate), advises when looking for scallops to “Look for hand-dived options as this is a low-impact fishing method,”
Hand diving for scallops is a sustainable method of fishing; the diver hand picks the scallops from the seabed leaving the smaller undersized scallops to continue to grow and spawn. This means there is no waste or by-catch.
Creel fishing (also known as Potting) is referred to as a ‘passive’ or ‘static’ form of fishing as the baited creels are dropped from the boat to the seabed where they soak until they are next retrieved by the vessel. This form of fishing is an environmentally sustainable form of fishing. We can be species-selective so therefore there is very little by-catch. Target species are brought to the surface alive and undamaged, meaning that egg bearing females or undersized animals can be returned to the sea. The carbon footprint (in particular fuel consumption) is minimal compared to other methods of fishing as most boats are smaller and fish relatively close to shore.
We do realise that heavier impact methods of fishing could be appropriate in some areas however we believe there should be more control of where some fishing gears are used. Certain seabed environments are able to resist this level of effort more than some others. Therefore we feel It is important to find a better balance than has been achieved thus far. We support the idea that in some distinct areas, all forms of fishing should be curtailed to enable the Marine Environment to flourish. Whilst our Company has decided to stick strictly with the most sustainable forms of fishing in the supply of our products, we realise that other fishing methods have their place in the supply chain.