'Fish Fight' prompts Scottish scallop-dredging review
Scotland's GBP 30 million scallop-dredging industry will be the subject of a "wide-ranging review" by ministers in the wake of allegations that it is wrecking the seabed and destroying fish stocks.
A high-profile campaign by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his Hugh's Fish Fight television show has sparked widespread public concern, endorsed by environmental groups, but has also upset the industry.
Now tensions are rising over the Scottish Government's plan to re-examine the sustainability of scallop dredging. The comprehensive review, due to start in April, could lead to new controls.
Scallops are Scotland's second most valuable shellfish, with 16,000 metric tons a year harvested, mostly for export. But dredging has attracted growing criticism because of the damage it can inflict on fish nurseries, coral reefs and marine wildlife.
The Scottish Government's review was welcomed by the Fish Fight campaign yesterday, with a spokesman calling for a network of new protected areas.
The umbrella group for Scotland's green groups, Scottish Environment Link, has been campaigning for a review of scallop dredging. Calum Duncan of the Marine Conservation Society said dredging could lead to the "ecological wipe-out" of the more sensitive areas of the seabed.
"Biologically diverse reefs and other complex habitats can be irreversibly damaged," he said. "Use of this heavy gear has to be managed sustainably for the benefit of our seas and the coastal communities that rely on them. We cannot take a business-as-usual approach."