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Dead kittiwakes, dwindling fish and oceans of plastic: my voyage of discovery

Kevin Rushby joined the crew aboard the Summer Rose fishing boat seeking insight into the state of our seas. He found life hard for fishermen and marine creatures alike - but can conservation measures such as Michael Gove's 'blue belt' help?It takes 20 minutes of sailing to get into position under the cliffs, then we begin. Matthew grabs the rope connected to the marker buoy and loops it up over the winch. Mike, his father and the captain, turns the boat and starts to follow the rope as the pots come up. Each one is hauled on to the gunwale where Matthew deftly removes the creatures within. Large lobsters and edible crabs to the left, the rest thrown back overboard alive: the females with eggs, the ones with scarred tails or soft shells and the undersized, plus the cod that have unwisely ventured into the creels, the tiny green crabs and the arm-long catsharks. The crewman, Jim, grabs the empty pots, re-baits and stacks them. Some need repairs, a whip of line to tie up a hole - a job completed in a few seconds. At 20 pots the line is finished and Mike sails us back to the start point. He checks the GPS and Jim chucks the creels overboard in a steady stream. There is no time for conversation and anyway you would struggle to hear anything above the engine, the sea and the screams of the gulls. The next buoy is captured. The first pot arrives, alive with silver water and thrashing bodies. This relentless pace will be kept up for the next five hours.I am sitting in the bows, out of the way. It is shortly after dawn on a glorious summer morning. Golden light bursts on the chalk cliffs of Flamborough, East Yorkshire. In the water are rafts of puffins and the air is filled with movement and noise: gannets, kittiwakes, sandwich terns and herring gulls. This is one of the government's new marine protected areas (MPAs), part of a big expansion in habitat protection. Environment secretary Michael Gove has called for a third of the world's oceans to be protected by 2030, and in June announced 41 new protected areas to add to the 50 already declared since 2013, adding 11,700 sq km to the existing 209,000 sq km of protected British seas. The stated aim is to ban damaging activities such as dredging in these areas, and to protect and restore rare or threatened marine habitats; there are more than 5,000 MPAs worldwide. Continue reading...
Zdroj: The Guardian

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26. ledna 2022

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