FISHERMEN will meet environmental bodies to discuss declining fish stocks in the Thames Estuary “within weeks” as an MP again pressed ministers over the issue in the Commons.
The Marine Management Organisation, the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Environment Agency will organise a workshop with industry leaders and experts to discuss stocks, as the amount of sole landed has more than halved in two years.
Southend West Tory MP David Amess and some fishermen have blamed the decline on the dredging of a channel up the estuary so large container ships can reach the new London Gateway superport at Corringham, although no causal link has been established.
The port’s owners, point to other factors, including new fishing techniques and an increase in fresh water, but support the meeting with local fishermen, regulators and UK Government scientists.
Calling for a Parliamentary debate on the dredging, Mr Amess said: “Leigh fishermen are complaining about the loss of their catch.
“I recently waded into the Thames Estuary – I cannot walk on water yet – and I saw Victorian cart tracks that have been exposed. Something is amiss with the Thames Estuary.”
AndrewLansley, leader of the House of Commons – who left Governnment in David Cameron’s reshuffle – said: “The Marine Management Organisation is aware of the concerns raised by fishermen about commercial fish stocks in the Thames.
“In the next few weeks, the Marine Management Organisation, the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Environment Agency will organise a joint agency workshop to bring together industry leaders and experts to review the current state of key commercial fish stocks in the Thames.”