Thursday, 1 December 2011

Interesting perspectives from the northern end of Cardigan Bay

Hi Cliff,

It's interesting to read some of the blog comments on scallop dredging. At the NCI station at Porth Dinlaen we watch over a small protected area from where dredging is prohibited, we have good contact with the local fisheries officers who have promptly attended and launched a RIB to intercept rogue boats in the zone when we have reported them. Between us we have also compared details of suspect boats and their skippers / owners have been approached at their home ports.

I don't know if this communication exists elsewhere but it would certainly be effective if it did.

With regard to porpoise their spread in the north is interesting. I know if I spend a little time around Bull Bay on Anglesey or between Criccieth and Harlech there is a very good chance I'll see some but, I have never seen porpoise around the lower end of the Llyn, despite it being between these other two locations. I suppose it is possible the winter dredging in waters between Bardsey and South Stack could be having an impact.

It is also apparent in the north we have different groups of bottlenose. On many occasions over several years I have canoed out to the old lifeboat slipway near Abersoch at 1 - 2 hours after high tide and been joined by bottlenose dolphins feeding in the tidal overfall. This is despite the heavy summer leisure boat traffic, so I'm sure these particular animals are resident.

The sightings pattern at Porth Dinlaen is very different, the animals show up at sporadic intervals, will be around for several days then disappear. They also seem to appear at various states of tide so I suspect they are a much more nomadic group possibly ranging over a large part of the Irish Sea.

Unfortunately we don't have enough boat based observers in this area to take fin shots and carry out a proper study so we can only speculate. I don't however think it is unreasonable to suspect that any form of intensive fishing would be disruptive to the marine mammals in a confined area like the Irish Sea, especially those of a nomadic nature.


Martin Moore.

NCI Porth Dinllaen.

Thanks for this Martin, food for thought which clearly illustrates the value of your work!