by Richard Neale
To its credit, the Government went back to the drawing board and I now find myself on its MCZ Stakeholder Focus Group, along with a good-natured but incredibly diverse group of representatives from all aspects of marine interests. At a recent meeting we got a bit bogged down with the science. Looking out of the window at the sun on Aberystwyth bay, I decided that it was time to take a reality check.
|Sion Williams, checking the first of his |
And that is how I came to be climbing on board a small commercial fishing boat amongst the slippery rocks and seaweed of the tiny cove of Porth Colmon on the north coast of the Llŷn peninsula. Its skipper, Siôn Williams, powered up the engines and soon we were travelling at speed towards his whelk pots. Talking in the shelter of the small wheelhouse, I started to build up a picture of Siôn’s working life.
Where I saw an expanse of featureless sea, he used a mental map – built up from several generations of trial and error – to see mountain ranges of submerged reefs surrounded by acres of gravelly sand. His patch is nearly ten miles long by a couple of miles wide and, in the height of summer, he goes around 120 whelk pots – and a similar number of lobster pots – every day that the weather will let him.
We arrived at the first of his buoys and I was sent to the stern to be out the way, where I watched him working. What amazed me was that he seemed to be doing everything at once – all in a single uninterrupted and seemingly backbreaking movement: operating the winch, hauling up the pots, shaking out the whelks, adjusting the orientation of the boat, preparing the bait, bagging and stacking the catch…
Heading off to the more turbulent waters near the cliffs to check his lobster pots, I had time to ask Siôn what he thought of the MCZ proposals.
|Checking the carapace size of a lobster (this one's too small|
and will be returned to the sea). Sion also voluntarily carries
out other conservation measures to protect catch stocks for