Fish washed up on Marazion beach in Cornwall

image copyrightKatrina Slack
image captionThousands of fish washed up on Marazion beach

Thousands of fish have been washed up on a Cornish beach, a fortnight after a similar mass beaching nearby.

The latest stranding took place on Marazion Beach near Penzance, in front of St Michael's Mount.

A carpet of sardines and other fish appeared on the beach on Saturday evening and many remained there on Monday.

Experts believe it may be because fishing boats have had to release part of their catch.

The bulk of the fish appear to be sardines, with some mackerel and herring also washed up.

Witness Katrina Slack said: "I've never seen anything like it. It was like the waves were made of fish."

Earlier this month there was a stranding at Pentewan Beach near St Austell, about 40 miles from Marazion.

image copyrightPaul Rogers
image captionThis is the second mass stranding of fish in Cornwall this month

Fishing industry representatives say the most likely reason was down to "ring netters".

The boats work by encircling shoals, or part of shoals, with a large net before closing it up into a circle on the surface.

When they catch too many fish there is a danger of the boat being pulled under.

To prevent this some of the fish can be released from the bottom of the net, but they usually die.

There are about fifteen of the boats operating along the south Cornish coast between Plymouth and Mounts Bay, and they have been busy in recent weeks.

'Seagull fodder'

Simon Cadman from the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority said "the numbers of fish have been exceptionally high."

He said: "We can't be 100% sure, but there's a strong likelihood this is to do with ring netters.

"This is not good in any respect and fishermen, like anybody else, don't want to see this amount of fish ending up as seagull fodder.

"We are talking to them about what has gone wrong to try and stop it happening again."

image copyrightLouise Batty
image captionThe beached fish are mainly sardines

Debbie Crockard from the Marine Conservation Society said: "This is not illegal but it's not something we want to see happening.

"It needs to be looked at as fishermen don't want it either. The safety of fishermen is important, but we should find a way to avoid getting into the situation in the first place."

image copyrightLouise Batty
image captionThe fish may have been released from nets when the catch was in danger of dragging the boat down

Paul Trebilcock from the Cornish Fish Producers' Organisation said he did not think fishermen were intentionally throwing away their catch.

He said: "Sometimes they simply catch too many fish for the ring netters to handle and they escape or need to be released.

"This has nothing to do with quotas, but simply too many fish in the sea in this case."

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