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Teen launches battle to protect fishing hotspot

LG 230614 Save the fish campaign. Aiden Skinner, 18, has launched his own fight to stop trawlers from hunting endangered fish in a protected reef off Littlehampton's coast.  Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140623-111428001

LG 230614 Save the fish campaign. Aiden Skinner, 18, has launched his own fight to stop trawlers from hunting endangered fish in a protected reef off Littlehampton's coast. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140623-111428001

A TEENAGE angler from Littlehampton has launched his own battle to stop trawlers wrecking a stretch of the town’s coastline.

Aiden Skinner, 18, of Snowdrop Close, has started a campaign against trawlers fishing at Kingmere Reef.

The Northbrook College student claims the trawlers are destroying the reef’s sensitive eco-system.

He says that since they have been operating in the area, there has been a significant decrease in the number of black bream using the site as their home.

Aiden said: “The whole area is looking really knackered, it’s pretty damaged.

“Five years back, we did a massive study and estimated that there were about 40 million fish using the reef during breeding periods. Ever since then, their numbers have been dropping and now we’re looking at just five million breeding at the reef.”

Aiden has launched an online petition calling on the organisation which manages the sustainability of inshore sea fishing to increase the conservation area of the reef.

Currently, the reef takes up about 49km sq of land to the south of Littlehampton and Worthing.

Aiden would like to see this conservation area dramatically increased to offer greater protection for the fish using it.

So far, more than 250 people have signed his petition.

Responding to it, Tim Dapling chief fisheries and conservation officer with the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), said a consultation into expanding the protection area had already been launched.

He said: “The authority has undertaken a process to identify and prioritise management concerns for the future. In consultation with the community in 2013, the authority have identified that these include commercial fishing close to the shore and the introduction of appropriate minimum legal sizes for recreational and commercial species.”

Littlehampton harbour master Billy Johnson said he was aware of Aiden’s campaign.

However, he said that, in his view, the actions of the trawlers, from a navigation stand point, were not illegal.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s IFCA’s role to decide upon the conservation of the area.

“But the trawlers are allowed to fish there and navigate there.

“So from my point of view, there’s nothing wrong about what they’re doing.”

Aiden said: “I want to save this bream hotspot. Small commercial fishers are fine, that’s sustainable. But trawlers aren’t.”

To sign Aiden’s petition, see www.change.org and search ‘Sussex IFCA’.

 

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