Herne Bay Pier to ban plastic crabbing gear

Plastic crabbing gear is to be banned from Herne Bay Pier over fears it could end up in the sea and harm wildlife.

Families hoping to catch the crustaceans from underneath the coastal landmark will be prohibited from doing so with non-biodegradable lines and nets after September 1 - with supermarkets being urged to stop selling them.

A photo from a crabbing competition on Herne Bay Pier five years ago. Picture: Alan Langley
A photo from a crabbing competition on Herne Bay Pier five years ago. Picture: Alan Langley

Visitors using the kits – which are made from plastic and nylon – will be “politely reminded” by teams the equipment is not allowed.

And ahead of the date, trustees from the charity running the pier say they have written to Tesco and Morrisons asking them to sell biodegradable crabbing tools at nearby branches instead.

Trustee Catherine Francis-Yeats told KentOnline: “We can’t do anything about other people selling them in the town, but we will be contacting local supermarkets to tell them their customers won’t be able to use them on the pier.

“They should stop selling them really.

“I think we will be politely reminding visitors that we will only be using sustainable and all-natural products for crabbing because it ends up in the sea.

Herne Bay Pier trustee Catherine Francis-Yeats
Herne Bay Pier trustee Catherine Francis-Yeats

“We will just encourage people to do the right thing.”

Vendors on the pier will stop selling the plastic paraphernalia from the beginning of next month, replacing their stock with gear made from wood and hessian.

Ms Francis-Yeats says the decision was made as part of steps to protect wildlife off the coast, as crabbing kits are regularly dropped into the water by visitors.

“We just want to make sure we’re not damaging the environment or harming wildlife,” she added.

Crabbing is a popular pastime on Herne Bay Pier. Picture: Alan Langley
Crabbing is a popular pastime on Herne Bay Pier. Picture: Alan Langley

“One of the things that does happen with plastic, especially when it is exposed to the elements, is it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

“There are a lot of animals and birds that are killed by eating these pieces.”

There were calls to boycott crabbing competitions three years ago, after a dead seagull was washed up caught in a line.

Herne Bay Angling Association trustee Barry Mount – whose group organised crabbing competitions in the town between the 1980s and 2018 – believes the shift to biodegradable lines and nets will not stop such incidents from happening again.

“It’s a good move; it won’t make any difference to the crabbing per se and we’ll support any initiative that helps wildlife,” he said.

“But even a biodegradable line would still get wrapped around a seagull because it would still take a while to break down.”

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