Sea Change Champion Award 2016 goes to Sussex fisherman

Sea Change Champion Award 2016 goes to Sussex fisherman

A small-scale fisherman from Eastbourne in southern England, has won World Animal Protection UK’s Sea Change Champion Award, for tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear.

The award is given to a leading individual who is tackling the problem and reducing the impact of lost fishing gear on the marine environment. As part of its Sea Change Campaign, World Animal Protection UK works with the fishing industry to prevent all fishing gear from entering UK waters and develop sustainable solutions and the award is a key part of this.

‘Graham Doswell stood out as someone who is environmentally-minded, works hard to promote responsible fishing and acts as a community ambassador for recycling fishing nets when they have come to the end of their life,’ said Sea Change UK Campaign Manager, Christina Dixon. ‘This type of solution is something we hope to see happening in more ports around the country as we all work together to close the loop on fishing gear.’

Graham Doswell, a third-generation fisherman working from Eastbourne, said that the area has always been very productive and fish stocks return if they are looked after.

‘We use small vessels and are limited to the area that we work, so fishing needs to be sustainable because if that’s gone then you have no livelihood. We use fishing gear that doesn’t damage the seabed and we recycle nets and ropes in one-tonne bin bags when they need to be replaced so that it gets reused and doesn’t get put in landfill or damage the environment,’ he said.

Graham was nominated by Harry Owen of MCB Seafoods in Newhaven who has been instrumental in establishing net collection points for fishermen in the UK and was impressed by Graham’s attitude to the scheme.

Nominees for the award included Jim Evans, Chairman of the Welsh Fishermen’s Association for working with experts and other fishermen to design a search and recovery project to both assess and address the ghost gear issue, Jim Partridge Monteum Ltd in Shoreham-by-Sea for his handmade Lobster Parlour Pots made of durable plastic and rubber which are less likely to get snapped off a boat and include an optional escape hatch for young fish, and also the Pembrokeshire Sustainable Shellfish Pilot Initiative for trialling fishing gear modifications intended to reduce ghost fishing from pots should they become inadvertently lost.

‘The people that this award has highlighted have made an outstanding contribution to addressing ghost gear, from modifications to fishing equipment, to limiting the impact of ghost fishing, to championing schemes designed to recover ghost gear and finding solutions to recycle equipment at the end of its life,’ Christina Dixon said.

‘We believe these practices are the future of sustainable fishing and provide practical and affordable examples for fishers to reduce the impact of ghost gear on the marine environment and protect marine animals.’