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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 15:12 GMT
Scallop dredges 'destroying reef'
Lyme Bay scallop dredging is said to damage the marine environment
Conservationists have warned continued dredging for scallops off a reef at Lyme Bay will seriously damage the marine environment.

Paul Gompertz, from Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT), said: "Dredging for scallops is like collecting mushrooms in ancient woodland with a JCB."

But Lyme Bay fishermen have said scallop dredging is their livelihood and brings 2m to the local economy.

The government has extended consultation over curbing dredging.

We have got to stop this method of destroying the reef just to catch a few scallops
Paul Gompertz, Devon Wildlife Trust

Mr Gompertz said: "The reef area is one of the five most important sites off the English coast.

"We have got to stop this method of destroying the reef just to catch a few scallops."

More than 300 species including the rare pink sea fan and sunset corals can be found on the sea bed.

Jim Porteus, of South Western Fish Producer Organisation, accepted the need to protect the area.

He said: "The fishermen have given protection to nearly 15 sq miles (38.8 sq km) of this area and have agreed to stay off the reefs.

"Two million in economic activity would be lost if we had a 60 sq mile (155.4 sq km) closure."

Last year the government announced voluntary measures to protect the South West's marine environment.

The government agency said it would consult with sea fisheries committees to consider how it could be backed up by legislation.

Consultation ends on 21 December.

Conservationists put forward their case

Steps to save marine environment
24 Aug 06 |  England

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