Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Monday, 17 October 2011

Shell Harvesting the myth.

For some reason people shellfish harvesting from our coastline has now become an issue something that puzzles me as harvesting from our coastline has been an activity for centuries. Then I think back to all the severe storms and harsh winters that have tore into the shellfish population with devastating effect, plus the activity from commercial operations off shore. In each case the populations have recovered in fact a severe winter can kill off more shellfish than shore harvesters can harvest in a year. The pacific oyster which 20 years ago was an unusual find has exploded to such proportions that in some areas there are over 50 plus oysters to the square meter in some areas of the Thanet coastline. Years ago such a bounty would have been a bonus for the white English only Anglo Saxon population which would not have been an issue, however because so called migrants are having a few this is now become an issue because they are taking a few. The strange thing is I am a coastal warden and I have my patch which is perhaps one of the densest populations of shellfish in Thanet and the main harvesters are sea birds and to be honest there is absolutely no evidence of excessive harvesting by people.


DrM. said...

Tony, your comments puzzle me as I had hoped to enlist your support and involvement in seeking to preserve and protect our reef from the growing commercial pressures it faces from regular visits from harvesting gangs.

What colour they are is immaterial but this does present a potential issue for the border agency and indeed to the food safety agency in regard to volume harvesting and sales to the urban restaurant trade without proper safety checks.

I could go on. This is recognized by the gangmasters' agency a growing problem elsewhere in the country and I hope that a little preemptive action here in Thanet may prevent it growing beyond sensible control on our own shoreline.

Tony Beachcomber said...

The problem I have Simon, is that near enough everyone that has approached me on this subject tend to throw in the race card and I am just about fed up with it.

Looking at the facts we have a population explosion of Pacific Oysters an invasive species. They attach themselves to almost anything including mussel beds. This is reaching a point that there is a growing threat they will crowd out the native species. Even though our native species are hardy and I have seen a few natural disasters, any invasive specie is potentialy more threatening.Unless nature comes up with something to keep the population in check which it normaly does, the Pacific Oyster is here to stay and is proving to be pretty resilient. So I do not see a harvesting problem if it is only pacific oysters that are harvested. However, like you pointed out there is a wider public health issue that must be dealt with.
The trouble with most harvesting is that there is always this minority element amongst them that shows no consideration to the natural environment and there is a growing concern that the Limpet is suffering as a result.

Perhaps the ideal situation would be for a local commercial enterprise to have the sole rights to harvest oysters from certain areas excluding those people who take a few for own consumption from other deregulated areas. Then this could be regulated by public health rules and perhaps provide local employment. As it stands at present the pacific oyster population is becoming commercialy viable and needs to be looked into to prevent a free for all.