Head of National Trust calls for dredging to be banned


Charles Alluto, the organisation’s chief executive, is calling for an end to dredging and trawling in the most sensitive areas around the Island’s coast.

He also wants fishermen to use more environmentally friendly fishing methods and described dredging in shallow waters as not only environmentally destructive but ‘nonsensical’ and akin to ‘removing the top soil while harvesting a crop of potatoes’.

‘It is not a sustainable practice, as it destroys the very environment which supports the resource you are seeking to capture,’ he said.

‘It is a nonsensical practice which undermines the long-term sustainability and livelihoods of our fishing industry – and yet we continue blindly to condone its practice, thereby delivering short-term economic gain at the expense of our environment and the industry as a whole.’

Five Jersey fishing boats and numerous French boats practise dredging, a process which essentially scrapes the seabed.

Mr Alluto said that the technique could be allowed in the deepest waters but added that he wanted alternatives, such as using nets which allow smaller fish through, ‘hand diving’ to collect scallops, and moderate use of pots for crabs and lobsters, to be used in shallower areas.

The trust is supporting proposals by environmental group the Blue Marine Foundation for a ‘marine conservation park’ in the Island’s shallow, most environmentally sensitive eastern waters.

Such a designation would protect the area from dredging and trawling and would allow the plants on the seabed to flourish again, supporting Jersey’s aim to become carbon neutral in the next nine years.

Many of the species that grow on the seabed are able to lock up vast amounts of carbon. Seagrass is said to absorb carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforest.

Mr Alluto hopes the proposed marine conservation park – complete with dredging ban – will be incorporated in the next Interim Island Plan, which is due next year.

He said he was pleased that the UK government had agreed to stop dredging and trawling in its own protected sea areas.

He added: ‘It is a well-earned victory for Blue Marine and Greenpeace.

‘It is hoped that it will be a useful precedent for other marine protected areas, including those in Europe, which have been dubbed “paper parks” due to their failure to secure tangible protection.’