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Steve Hartley is the founder of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, New Quay. He now runs Dolphin Survey Boat Trips, however previously fished the waters of Cardigan Bay.
A member of our Living Seas Team sat down with Steve, to discuss his memories of life in the Bay. Here, he discusses the discovery of a new Scallop Ground off Aberporth, and the repercussions for the local environment.
Recollection below:
"Gerallt was the first one to go scallop dredging off Aberporth, out in Cardigan Bay.
Winston and him started fishing it the year before I joined Gerallt…but they couldn’t keep the catches quiet for long - I think they were trying to, sort of, quietly land them. But then, very quickly, other boats heard of the new scallop grounds being found, and by the end of that season there were over 80 boats out there fishing – boats from all around the country. And they absolutely devastated it.
All the young fellows around here, including myself, who crewed those boats in that time were earning – the figure I remember myself was £900 for a week’s trip fishing. That was the crew getting that! So we were all really up for getting a piece of that…not realising the damage it was doing, or thinking any more than that were young men who wanted to make money, and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to do that around here.
Then I fished with Gerallt in the second year, he took me out, and of course it had all changed, it was absolutely dreadful. There were still a lot of boats out there – but not the same numbers, and the fishing was dreadful.
But even then it was great – the seabed was still interesting…We were still dredging, and all sorts was coming up in the dredges, all sorts of different fish: monkfish, we even had a massive cod one day, lobster, crab, plaice, sole, brill – you name it! All sorts of wet fish were coming up, as well as the seabed and the scallops.
Looking back obviously it was dreadful. Because what we were doing was picking out the scallops from all the rubble on the deck, bagging them up, and pushing the seabed back over the side…so the devastation was just ongoing.
And now…what must it be like now! If you constantly dredge an area it turns into a bit of a desert. What I was seeing was the last of a really rich environment.
But people called Cardigan Bay: 'Poverty Bay'. You know, the fishermen would call it 'Poverty Bay', but they wouldn’t know how to fish that ground without destroying it. Yet, there was fish out there: cod and brill, very marketable fish. But it wasn’t easily trawled, so the fishing then became very much lobsterpots – static gear for that sort of stuff."
To learn more about Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, please visit:

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