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Controversy over scallop dredgers

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dolph1A PETITION aiming to stop scallop dredging grounds from being extended in Cardigan Bay has received over 15,000 signatures, following criticism of a Welsh Government consultation. However, fishermen who have seen a lucrative ground closed for what will be at least seven years have claimed that extensive scientific studies carried out on the grounds since 2010 indicate that there is room for a sustainable fishery. The SAC (Special Area of Conservation) in Cardigan Bay is a traditional scallop fishery, which was closed in 2009 following concerns about the environmental impact of an influx of boats.

A small area of Cardigan Bay – The ‘Kaiser Box’ is opened for fishing during the scallop season (Nov – Apr). This has been overfished, to the extent where some local boats are fishing alternative locations or for different catches. It is also claimed, both anecdotally and by scientists involved with the ‘test fishing’ that scallop stocks outside of the Kaiser Box are thriving to the extent where they are potentially unable to reach full growth and are leading to a reduction in biodiversity. The Welsh Government proposes to introduce a ‘managed fishery’ where areas of Cardigan Bay between three and 12 miles out to sea would be fished, with limits imposed on the number of times per season that each patch is dredged, restrictions on equipment used, and flexible restrictions based on the results of regular monitoring. A consultation was launched in November, but relaunched following criticism of the clarity of an online version, and a technical error.

This area of Cardigan Bay was said by the Welsh Government to be mostly shallow water where the sand sea-bed was susceptible to ‘wave shaping’. Test fishing carried out by scientists from Bangor University among others showed that, in the words of the Welsh Government report: ‘This experiment concluded that, as scallop intensity increased, the negative effects on the animal community also increased such that the abundance (i.e. number) and biomass (i.e. weight) of organisms per unit area of the seabed declined. ‘However, these effects were relatively minor and short – lived and were reversed in the period between May and September in the same year (note this would also coincide with the closed season for some scallop fisheries).

‘Depending on the sediment type, the abundance and biomass of benthic species (particularly the prey for fish) had increased in areas with the highest scallop dredging intensity. This may have occurred due to the removal of scallops which constitute the dominant fauna (in biomass) within the areas studied – i.e. through the removal of the main competitor for food. ‘Thus the effects of scallop dredging on prey species for fish do not appear to be a cause for concern. For most areas of the seabed, the physical effects of scallop dredging were no longer present 12 months later. There were two exceptions to this – one more cobbly area of seabed close to the 3 nautical mile zone that had been fished with an intensity of between 3 and 4 times fished, and one area in the 6-12 nautical mile zone that had been fished slightly more than 6 times (these figures are derived from averaging the fishing intensity across the experimental fishing area).

Now that the location of these areas has been identified, the Welsh Government will be in a position to protect them by way of spatial restrictions’. However, environmental writer George Monbiot rubbished these claims. In an ‘emotive’ article, entitled The Dolphin Killers of Cardigan Bay, which appeared in the Guardian last month as an opinion piece, Mr Monbiot made the claim that because the sea beds in Cardigan Bay had been dredged and trawled for years, they were likely to take ‘decades if not centuries’ to recover their former biodiversity, and as such, the Bangor University Study was flawed. One scientist was quoted as suggesting that if you failed to mow your lawn for five years, you would not end up with a first-growth oak forest.

While this is true, it does seem to be a somewhat trite statement in this context. Mr Monbiot made some very valid points. The effects of beam trawling and dredging on certain sea beds, especially coral and reefs, is devastating, and these are widely regarded as two of the more destructive forms of fishing in terms of environmental impact. However, claims about the damage to cuter varieties of marine fauna were not sufficiently explained. However, ‘The people who may be interfering with the Dolphins’ food chain in Cardigan Bay’ lacks the same impact as a headline. This article was linked to the Change.org petition. This also begs the question of where these dolphins were when the grounds were being fished before.

Because this is an emotive subject, no fishermen were willing to be interviewed on the record, but no one The Herald talked to had noticed an increase or decrease in the number of dolphins and porpoises in Cardigan Bay over the last decade. Whether Mr Monbiot had data illustrating this or not is open to question, but one would think that data which proved the main hypothesis of the article would have been reproduced, or footnoted. A number of fishermen expressed their frustrations that following one of the most detailed assessments into the impact of scallop fishing, that a consultation based on this has been extended. The Herald was told that it was in the interests of fishermen to work within any Governmentimposed restrictions, both to continue fishing, and to make sure that the industry was sustainable.

Many of those commenting on the petition seemed to imply that eco tourism or alternative fishing methods could replace the dredging industry, or such of it as remains. To some extent the latter has occurred naturally in this area; notably fewer scallop boats have been seen in Milford Docks, for example, this winter, at least partly as a result of poor catches in the permitted area. The overlap between commercial fishing and eco-tourism probably looks a lot clearer from the perspective of a holidaymaker, though it is hard to see how many transferable skills there would be between the two, and while diving for scallops may be the preferred method, the yields using this method equate to a small percentage of the total scallop catch, thought to be worth between £5 and 6mfrom Cardigan Bay alone. To respond to the relaunched Welsh Government consultation, visit: http://gov.wales/consultations/ environmentandcountryside/proposed-new-management-measures-for-the-scallop-fishery-incardigan-bay/?lang=en To sign the change.org petition, visit their website and search for Cardigan Bay.

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Ceredigion’s first ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ Fair to be held

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CEREDIGION’S first ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ Fair will be held to encourage and support businesses who want to increase their bilingual provision in their daily work. 

With the 2020 Ceredigion National Eisteddfod on the horizon, Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion’s Welsh in the Workplace Officers are busy assisting the county’s businesses in benefitting from the use of Welsh in their business. To this end, the Welsh will be the focus for a special event at the beginning of October with a Welsh in the Workplace Fair. 

Huw Marshall from ‘Yr Awr Gymraeg’ (The Welsh hour) will lead in how to raise your business profile and how to effectively market in order to attract more customers. During the day there will be opportunities to ask a panel of businesses who already operate bilingually whilst learning from their experiences and the challenges they faced. The panel will consist of Emlyn Jones (Diogel Events), Kerry Ferguson (Gwe Cambrian), Eleri Davies (Blaenwaun Caravan Park) and Sioned Thomas (Ffenestri Kevin Thomas Windows), chaired by Keith Henson (Coleg Ceredigion).

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Culture said, “It is heart-warming to see a valuable and important Fair such as this being held in Ceredigion for the first time by Cered. It’s a very special opportunity to see businesses in one place and hear the experiences from those who use the Welsh language daily in their work.”

Later in the afternoon, there will be opportunities for businesses to visit an array of information stands from Learn Welsh, Ceredigion Training, Cynnal y Cardi, Business Wales, Antur Teifi, the Welsh Language Commissioner, Coleg Ceredigion and Cymraeg Byd Busnes.

The Fair is to be held on Thursday, 04 October 2018, between 10:30 and 15:30 at Cardigan Castle. Limited spaces are available, so register and reserve your place on tocyn.cymru. Simultaneous translation facilities and refreshments including tea and coffee will be available.

The ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ project has received LEADER support through the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (administered by Ceredigion County Council) which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

For further information, contact Pat Jones, Welsh Language Business Development Officer, Cered, Menter Iaith Ceredigion on Pat.jones@ceredigion.gov.uk or 01545 572350.

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Woman claimed benefits after £138,000 inheritance

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A NEW QUAY woman continued claiming benefits despite inheriting £138,000.
Susan Marion, aged 57, was then awarded £18,417 which she was not entitled to.
Marion was found guilty by a jury at Swansea crown court this afternoon of failing to notify Ceredigion County Council and the Department for Work and Pensions of inheritances that would have affected her right to benefits.
Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, told the jury how a series of inheritances meant that Marion had well above the £16,000 limit of savings and capital.
Marion, of Plas y Wern, Gilfachrheda, told the court she did not accept that the money was rightfully her’s.
She said it had been left to her by her father, grandmother and an aunt.
She said she considered the money tainted because her father and grandfather had kept battery chickens and killed lambs, both of which she disapproved of.
At first, she added, she had been willing to keep the £11,000 left to her by her aunt, but then discovered she had raced whippets, which she also considered to be cruel.
Mr Rees said that despite her views she had used the money to open four accounts at Barclays bank.
Marion, who had denied the charges, will be sentenced on October 19 and was granted bail until then.
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Join the stand against scams

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CEREDIGION residents will get the opportunity to learn more about how they can protect themselves against scams in an event to be held at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm.

Ceredigion County Council have joined the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team and Wales Against Scam Partnership (WASP) who will be touring Wales holding scam awareness events between 24 and 28 September.

Friends Against Scams is an NTS initiative that aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Protection Services said, “Scams often target the most vulnerable people in society but the reality is that anyone can become a victim of scams. Scams damage lives and can affect people financially and emotionally so I’m proud that Ceredigion County Council has joined the work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, Friends Against Scams and others who are working together to prevent people from being victims of scams. By signing up as an organisation we undertake to actively promote the Friends Against Scams initiative.”

Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.

Louise Baxter, Team Manager in the National Trading Standards Scams Team said: “The tactics used by scammers leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors. It is fantastic to have a great organisation to help us tackle this problem on a local, regional and national level and I would encourage all those that are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our growing Friends Against Scams network.”

Call by at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm to learn more on how to protect yourself from scams. For more information about becoming a Friend Against Scams, visitwww.friendsasagainstscams.org.uk

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