Guernsey Press

Under-size ormers find sparks investigation

Sea Fisheries is investigating after dozens of under-sized ormers were found shucked and discarded in tinfoil wrapping at Castle Emplacement on Monday.

Alderney journalist and photographer David Nash confronted three Frenchmen who he suspected of illegally collecting ormers from Braye Beach on Tuesday. (Picture by David Nash)

The discovery was made by Scott Nelson, who shared images of the find to the Facebook group Guernsey Wildlife.

Some of the ormers, Mr Nelson said, were barely 40mm in size, adding that he did not think that any of them were within the legal limit.

The legally permitted landing size of an ormer is 80mm, measured along the longest axis of the shell.

‘We are aware of this incident and are investigating the circumstances,’ Sea Fisheries said in a statement.

‘These incidents are not common occurrences, but Sea Fisheries is passed information from time to time.’

Such offences are not police matters. Sea Fisheries is the authority, and the level of punishment depends on the offence.

Scott Nelson’s Facebook post showing the shucked and under-size ormers

Jason Hamon, owner of Surf & Turf, which is one of the few shops on the island to sell ormers during the season, said that he had rarely encountered anyone collecting illegally-sized ormers.

‘I think there was a case I heard about once before, but it was years ago. We always go through the ormers we collect and make sure they are suitable.’

One experienced ormerer, who did not wish to be named, told the Guernsey Press that he believed that taking of undersized ormers was a ‘very, very rare occurrence’.

‘I don’t think this is generally an issue among the ormering fraternity, where it would be regarded as a heinous crime. No regular ormerer would do this.’

There was more ormering controversy in Alderney on Tuesday, when local journalist and photographer David Nash confronted three French fishermen gathering ormers in Braye Bay.

Mr Nash said that they had travelled over from the coastal town of Granville.

‘They told me they had specifically come to get some ormers on the ultra-low tide. They seemed to have quite a few in their basket.

‘They were quite amiable and said it was not in any way a commercial enterprise, but they just enjoyed the shellfish to eat as a delicacy.’

Believing that what the men were doing was illegal, Mr Nash raised the issue with Sea Fisheries in Guernsey. He was advised that the fishermen had likely contravened Alderney ormering laws, which prohibit exports without a licence from the States.