Seabird is a book of more than 250 colour photographs, by photographer Damian Bird and published by Life Force Magazine Books. It is a documentary look at the Fishermen of Westbay who fish the country’s largest marine protected area, Lyme Bay, which covers more than 60 square miles, stretching from Abbotsbury to Lyme Regis. The area has been fully closed to highly destructive scallop dredgers and bottom trawlers since 2008
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Foreword by David Sales: “Damian Bird came to sea with my son Jonathan and I some twenty years ago on the Gillian S WH166. In recent years he has been to sea with nine members of our close fishing community at West Bay His intimate pictures of crews working at sea capture the effort and concentration required to make a living amongst the inshore fleet.
“In 2008 after much work by Plymouth University and local fishermen our Marine Protected Area was established. A steady improvement in quantity and species has taken place, a positive for the future. Several methods of fishing are employed.
“The sea is our “Boss”, telling us when we can venture out and how far we can go in our small boats. That’s conservation! Bureaucracy continues to place more restrictions on the inshore fleet. It is sad to see most of the fishermen are over forty to sixty with no family member wishing to continue in the industry. Will West Bay loose its fishing community the summer visitors enjoy seeing?
“Thank you Damian. You may have captured ‘a moment in time’.”
David Sales 2017.
In fisherman, Jamie Smith’s words:
“The biggest attraction in West Bay, as far as the tourists go, are the fishermen and the fishing. You’ve only got to put a box of fish on the quayside and there’s a crowd there looking to see what you’ve caught. If they come from a city or something, it’s a completely different way of life to them and they’re often fascinated by it.”
“As a rough estimate, around 50% of what fishermen earn is distributed into local commerce: net makers, suppliers of pots, fuel companies, engineering companies, insurance, harbour people . All around the country, every harbour will be supporting the other industries in their local community.”
“If you look at the average age of the West Bay fishermen, it’s about 50 years old. And the investment needed, to buy a boat and all the gear, is so high that the youngsters are going into other jobs. If the government doesn’t look after the in-shore fishermen and help the youngsters get into the fishing industry, then in another 15-20 years time, we’ll all have gone.”