Shell hunters endanger reef life
Sunday 28 June 1998
Thousands of mussels, sea snails and peeler crabs thrive on the four- mile chalk reef at Botany Bay near Margate, Kent. They are being ravaged, however, by beachcombers who gather seafood in groups of up to 100 at a time.
When the Tidy Britain Group last week issued its Beach Care Code for Children, calling for sea shells to be left on the seashore, they were labelled as the ultimate beach-party poopers. But the organisation had places such as Botany Bay in mind.
Erosion, caused by a number of factors, including unusually stormy weather, rising sea levels and offshore dredging is causing increasing concern for Britain's shorelines. Quarrying of both the commercial and the casual variety is also making conservationists anxious.
English Nature are monitoring the underwater stretch of Botany Bay's reef, a site of special scientific interest, to establish if it is being damaged.
Hidden from view for most of the day, at low tide the reef is a magnificent sight, as the chalk and seaweed stretch 50 yards into the sea, a glistening combination of white and varied shades of green. The setting is enhanced by the adjacent spectacular chalk stacks. In the white cliffs there are derelict smugglers caves dating back 200 years.
Conservationists fear that if the shellfish population is wiped out it will disturb the balance of this delicate eco-system. "We don't have a problem with children putting a few shells into their bucket but these people are filling up builders' buckets," said Chris Tull, senior leisure officer at Thanet District Council.
"Most of these people come down at weekends and are part of extended families of Asian origin. We're pretty sure it's not commercial but the effect is almost the same. They are clearly very partial to shellfish. Our main concern is sustainability. If too many are removed they will be wiped out."
It is not only the gathering of living shellfish for food that is of concern. Mark Lloyd of The Tidy Britain Group, who is also secretary of the National Aquatic Litter Group, said the large-scale removal of empty shells puts eco-systems at risk.
"We're trying to show people that these resources are finite and to raise awareness that beaches are not just places for people to sunbathe," he said. "People do take large quantities, filling their gardens full of shells as a display. But shells provide homes for invertebrates and fish lay their eggs under them. Any sort of damage to beach or cliffs will affect the food chain."
The Marine Conservation Society is also concerned about the unrestricted removal of items from beaches. "There's a growing interest in having pebbles and stones for housekeeping and the commercial side of removing them should be controlled," said director of conservation Sam Pollard.
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...