Fishermen hit out at bid to recover tin from the seabed
Lack of consultation with fishermen over seabed surveys ahead of possible tin extraction off the Cornish coast has caused a "furore", the county's chief fisheries officer warned.
Marine Minerals Ltd (MML) is currently taking samples from the seabed along the coast from St Ives to Perranporth. It believes millions of pounds worth of tin could be sitting in the sand, having been washed out from previous mining exploits, and is researching whether capturing the reserves are commercially viable.
But Eddy Derriman, chief officer of the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, has raised concerns about the lack of information given to the local fleet in a letter to St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George.
"A real problem in the last day or so has been that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has given permission to Marine Minerals to carry out short surveys by grab and vibro-coring," Mr Derriman said.
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"It appears that little, if any, directed consultation was undertaken with the people most likely to be affected, the fishermen. This naturally caused quite a furore.
"To be fair, Marine Minerals probably did not appreciate the need to speak with the individuals at sea, and also to be fair, the grab survey and vibro-coring work is unlikely to hit the gear on the seabed.
"That, however, is beside the point because the developer should always inform people of its intentions."
Details of the project emerged late last year. Marine Minerals has been carrying out survey work, which is nearing completion, over the last week.
Mr George said: "I will contact the Marine Management Organisation again to ask that it makes sure that local interests are properly consulted and taken into consideration in any future plans for the kind of mineral extraction which I understand is under consideration.
A spokesman for Marine Minerals said it was "slightly taken aback" by Mr Derriman's letter having been in regular contact with staff at the authority. It has also discussed the project with local fishermen.
"The formal consultation will be held by Cornwall Council and the MMO once a licence application has been submitted," the spokesman said.
"Before that we will be undertaking our own consultation talking to fishermen and other groups to get their input. We can't do this without talking to the fishermen, it is absolutely critical and we have already started doing that.
"We were slightly taken aback by this letter and it's a shame that Mr Derriman doesn't feel as though we have been in touch enough and obviously we will look to rectify that in the future."