Shipwrecks at risk from ‘fishing bulldozers’

Date: November 29, 2015

Source: the guardian

Author: Robin McKie

They are some of the country’s greatest untouched treasures, having lain undisturbed on the seabed, in some cases for centuries. But now these archaeological riches are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate before scientists or historians can get their hands on them.

Modern fishing nets are damaging the sea bed, it is claimed. Photograph: Simon Armstrong/Alamy

That is the stark situation described by marine archaeologist Sean Kingsley, who says fishing boats that use heavyweight bottom-trawling and shellfish-dredging equipment are annihilating precious artefacts and sunken ships. Our desire for fresh scallops is putting our heritage at risk.

“We know what damage can be done by these bulldozers of the deep – trawlers that drag hundreds of tonnes of gear over the seabed,” says Kingsley, who is director of Wreck Watch International. “They are destroying great swaths of the marine environment and are turning habitats rich in coral, sponge and sea fan into monotonous expanses of gravel and mud.

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