Fishermen and marine experts clash over the future of dredging in Jersey

PA images Credit: Dredging is a practice that allows fishermen on the island to bring in catches such as scallops

The practice of dredging is generating tension between fishermen and some marine experts in Jersey.

Dredging is the process of raking the sea bed and is used by fishermen who are harvesting scallops, but the process can also disturb and displace other creatures.

Kevin McIlwee, a marine researcher, says that the practice of dredging is something that is having a severe impact on parts of the sea-bed.

" These areas are being over-exploited" he said. "they're being dredged far too frequently. I think it is just too much of a destructive process. We are moving more and more into a crisis situation."

Current laws in Jersey limit where licensed boats are allowed to dredge, but fishermen fear that more restrictions could follow which would in turn effect their livelihoods.

Jason Bonhomme, who is a scallop fisherman, says that people in his industry do all they can to protect marine life and argues that for people who fish "the sea is your life", adding that "when it's your living you nurture it".

"You look at bits of ground, you work bits of ground, you leave bits alone, you don't go to certain bits of ground when the weather is rough because if you do that when it's rough then you do damage to the ground." he continued.

The Government's own marine scientists say that they are still evaluating the effects of dredging on the sea bed.

"We're learning more the whole time" says marine scientist Francis Binney, "we're beginning to understand the lifecycle of species more so we're building up our knowledge and our ability to manage".

He added that "we're never going to say we've got it exactly right because we're always going to be learning more, we're always going to be developing things, changing things, testing things."

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