THE director of a commercial fishery has welcomed Kingmere’s marine conservation zone status but has reservations about the way it will be managed.
Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales owns and operates a fleet of fishing vessels out of Shoreham Harbour. Its inshore vessels fish for seasonal species found off the shores of the South East of England.
Director Bill Brook acknowledged there was a conflict between recreational and commercial fisherman but maintained they share common ground when it comes to worries surrounding the management of the Kingmere.
He said: “The commercial fishermen are broadly in favour of it because it’s protecting a reef structure. As a conservation measure, it will be fantastic.
“I will lose the ability to catch tonnes of fish but for the long-term it’s a good thing. There are four boats in the area that rely on that fishery. It’s a large percentage of their annual income.
“It’s a little bit of a concern because the Sussex IFCA has a track record of being draconian.”
Currently, the trawlers only operate in the Paleochannel – a two kilometre wide channel that runs north-west to south through the Kingmere. The seabed in the channel is made up of sand and gravel rather than reef.
Mr Brook said: “The trawlers in the area are only trawling on sand. You can’t go trawling over a reef because one, it’s not good environmentally and two, it would wreck our nets.
“Many a good scientist have said it’s safe to trawl on sand and gravel.”
Mr Brook hit back at Angling Trust director Tim Macpherson’s desire for trawling to be banned in areas around the Kingmere. He also disagreed with Mr Macpherson’s claims that the bream spent years growing close to shore and as such were vulnerable targets for trawlers.
He said: “For three years now, scientists have looked at boundaries of where they want to put this marine conservation zone and the one over Kingmere is set how it is because it encompasses the bream nesting sites.”
He added that the bream only spent a matter of weeks near to shore, before travelling into the English Channel.