Following our summer study and survey on nitrate and chemical pollution of St Aubin’s Bay, SOSJ are highlighting the long term effects of pollution and reclamation over the past 30 years on our south and south east coasts which in places are severely affected. In the photo on the right, the sand levels have dropped by up to 3 metres.
As SOS Jersey Co-ordinator Dave Cabeldu reports:
[In the pictures] I’m with my faithful fishing cat ‘Snooky’ who went with me everywhere on the beach as I would easily catch his favourite snack, blennies (cobboes) as the beach was teeming with life then. (Coady the lurcher stood in on the weekend, 60 years later to complete the second photo.)
Further down the beach past the Three Sisters, I could catch octopus, chancres, lobsters, conger, razor fish, lady crabs by the basket, prawns and shrimps etc. You would often step on sole and place which were abundant. Not so now.
The sand was healthy, oxygenated by marine animals, and deep. The rock pools below Stuart’s rock, even that high up the beach (just feet from the promenade) were alive with prawns, sea anemones, blennies and fry from many species.
The Havre des Pas Bathing Pool was a veritable aquarium. Stuart’s rock was also my favourite fishing spot at high tide where I would sit on the end at dawn on a spring tide with school friend Jeremy Reed (who became a famous poet and writer) and catch grey mullet and grasdos (sand smelt).
Grasdos came in shoals by the hundreds, closely followed by the ghostly grey shapes of our favourite but tricky prey – grey mullet.
The ‘slab’ which you can see at the foot of the steps, is now 10 feet or more above the sand which isn’t really sand any more but clay. The slope of smooth round pebbles upon which we would all lie on after a swim, has gone. The pools are void of all but green slime and a few limpets.
The pebbles have been pushed across to Greve d’Azette. It is because of two things, reclamation, which has caused a scouring effect and pollution (plus the lack of regulation) mainly of the toxic incinerator ash dumped by the thousands of tonnes directly on the beach to the west since the seventies when the population started to rise and the then Public Services took no notice of international best practice, Senator Stuart Syvret or the newly formed SOS Jersey.
Rapidly rising population, of course, is the key factor and has largely been ignored, even encouraged, in recent years.
The pollutants are in the form not only of nitrates but invisible heavy metals and other chemicals washed out from the first reclamation which had no controls.
Rivers of toxic leachate were identified by ERM consultants under the Waterfront to this day goes to sea under the whole site which is tidal and 10 metres down, and which has a profound effect on the delicate balance needed for marine life to prosper.
There will also be heavy metals, coming off La Collette from under the ash pits as admitted by the previous Director of Environment, shortly after the EfW fiasco.
Then of course there is the bacterial load that causes up to 80% mortality rate on the juvenile oysters at the beds at Grouville. All our farmed oysters have it be filtered in clean running water for 44 hours to wash out the toxins. That’s a subject for another day.