Wildlife Trust urges ban on dredging to save rare coral reef of Lyme Bay


A total ban on scallop dredging in Lyme Bay is the only way to protect some of Britain's rarest species of coral, the Wildlife Trust will say today.

The Lyme Bay reef in Devon is one of the country's most popular dive spots but its fragile ecosystem is being destroyed by heavy scallop dredging.

Today is the start of the scalloping season and, once again, the reef is in peril. Protected species such as the pink sea fan coral and the sunset cup coral are broken and killed by the heavy iron-toothed dredging rigs that are dragged along the seabed.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is holding a consultation to decide on the future of the Lyme Bay reef, which will conclude next month. Now the Devon Wildlife Trust has published a report that it has been compiling for the past 16 years urging Defra to impose an outright ban on dredging in the reef.

The devastating effect of dredging on marine ecosystem is exposed in the report, which calls for urgent action to protect the unique habitat. Paul Gompertz, director of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "The reefs are undersea equivalent of the rainforests and the report demonstrates that closure of Lyme Bay reefs to dredging is essential if we are to stop their destruction."

After chefs such as Rick Stein began to rave about the molluscs, demand for the shellfish has risen steeply. Stein has even chosen them as the signature dish for his seafood restaurant in Padstow.

According to local fishermen, the number of dredgers has increased dramatically in the past two years, as scallops became more fashionable. One Lyme Bay fisherman said that, in 2005, the number of dredging boats in the bay went from three to 23. The results have been devastating.

The 60 sq metres of reef make up less than 10 per cent of Lyme Bay, so there would still be areas available to dredge for scallops.

Many livelihoods depend on the well-being of the reef. Diving, potting and sea angling all rely on a healthy reef habitat, so aside from the environmental devastation caused by dredging, there are strong economic reasons for keeping them out.

David Sales, a lobster potter, who has been fishing Lyme Bay for 28 years, said: "I appreciate the scallop dredgers are entitled to make a living but the long-term future has to be assured for the area.

"It's had a horrendous effect on the reef: If you imagine towing something 12 metres wide, with 220 six-inch steel spikes along the seabed, you're going to do serious damage to something down there. You don't really need to be an expert to work that out".

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits