Bob Seymour explores concerns about the over-exploitation of the shellfish on the Solent shore.
Since 2010 the Solent fishery has been declassified for commercial activity because water quality has been considered unsafe. From 2014 the native oyster fishery for the whole of the Solent was closed because of the collapse in the population.
Many of us in the area will have enjoyed collecting a few Cockles for our families. But it’s a totally different vision to see large numbers of people go out on the shingle with large bags and buckets and sweep the area clean of everything that is alive.
Police believe some of the people involved may be controlled by gang-masters in a version of modern day slavery. We’d clearly wish to stamp out such inhuman exploitation.
Some legislation already exists to help prevent over-exploitation of the food source, through the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations of 2006.
But what is really required is a long term strategy to protect the resource this sea-life represents. Seabird numbers are in decline, largely because of a noticeable reduction in food supply.
One way to halt that decline might be some form of ban on shellfish and bait digging along our foreshore between the Hamble river and Lee beach.
Closed seasons, between March 1 and October 31, already exist for shellfish in the Portsmouth area. A Special Nature Conservation order has been in place for many years in Fareham creek prohibiting commercial bait digging.
Crofton Lib Dems are studying what measures might be possible and we’ll report back.