Dear MPA News:
I am writing to correct a statement in the essay by Leon Roskilly (“Aligning the Interests of Anglers and Conservation Groups on MPAs”) that appeared in the February 2007 MPA News.
The proposal by the UK’s conservation agency in Wales in 2005 to the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee (SWSFC) to ban most taking of commercial species in Skomer Marine Nature Reserve was not “scuppered” by anglers, as Roskilly suggests, but rather by the commercial fishing industry. Local anglers were content that the proposal would hardly affect them. In fact, there were only three objections to the proposal from anglers: two from people unfamiliar with the area and another from an individual who misunderstood the location of the reserve. (In contrast, 30 objections to the proposal were received from commercial fishermen. The SWSFC rejected the proposal.) The proposal was even cited in Sea Angler magazine (February 2005) as “covering waters that do not form a key angling area” along with a mention that local anglers were in regular contact with those making the proposal.
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve is Wales’ only statutory marine nature reserve. The site currently has prohibitions on dredging, beam trawling, and the taking of scallops, but any species under the regulatory remit of the SWSFC – finfish, crustaceans, and mollusks – can otherwise be exploited there.
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve Officer, Countryside Council of Wales, Fishermans Cottage, Martins Haven, Marloes, Pembrokeshire, SA62 3BJ, UK. E-mail: Skomer.MNR@ccw.gov.uk