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Fears of marine desert in Firth of Clyde as scientists warn of langoustine stock collapse


July 11 2010 Fish2Fork


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Fishing boats trawling the Firth of Clyde

BRITAIN could soon have its first "marine desert". Researchers have warned that the sea in the Firth of Clyde has been so heavily fished that it risks being emptied of almost all life.

The Clyde was once known for its halibut, cod, sharks and heavy catches of herring. However, these have almost all gone and the stock of langoustines, the shellfish which is now the area's only sizeable catch, could collapse through overfishing.

The alarm has been sounded by researchers at the University of York and Marine Science Scotland (MSS), part of the Scottish government. In research to be published next month, Callum Roberts, a professor of marine biology at York and an expert on fish stocks, together with Ruth Thurstan, a PhD researcher, warn that the "Clyde is an ecosystem in meltdown". Roberts said: "All the animals that used to be there are no longer there. The Clyde has been cleaned out. "In the process of exploiting species we have heavily degraded the environment and the eco system. The Firth of Clyde is nearing the end point."

A recent MSS report warned that the Clyde, which stretches from Loch Fyne to the Mull of Kintyre, was "being exploited unsustainably", although it said stocks would not immediately collapse.

Once fish numbers fall beyond a critical point, plankton and seaweed die — rather than being eaten by fish — and decomposition absorbs oxygen in the water. Experts warn of a possible ecological disaster even worse than the collapse of the Newfoundland fisheries in the early 1990s, when cod stocks fell by 99%.

The findings prompted demands for the whole of the Clyde to be declared a no-go zone for trawlers.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said: "The situation, if all the latest scientific advice is considered, is far from desperate, but care will be needed."


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1 Responses to  "Fears of marine desert in Firth of Clyde as scientists warn of langoustine stock collapse"

Justin Says:

Given the content of this article, the comment from Bertie Armstrong seems a little underwhelming. These reports do not seem to trigger any sort of alarm or action - more indifference. V.sad and worrying.


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