FISHERMEN have been banned from shellfish gathering in Poole Harbour due to storm overflows leaking sewage into the water.

Wessex Water-owned storm overflows have been spilling sewage into Poole Harbour which has led to the water quality being downgraded from category B to a category C – meaning shellfish gathering has been temporarily suspended.

The fishermen at Poole Harbour were asked to return ashore yesterday with no warning – leaving them out of pocket.

Independent businesses and fishermen have told the Daily Echo how their livelihoods have been affected by the disposal of sewage into Poole Bay and Poole Harbour.

Bournemouth Echo: Poole Harbour.

Owner of Dorset Oysters Pete Miles said this is not the first time issues have surfaced.

“They keep building new developments but are unable to dispose of the waste effectively so sewage is getting pumped into the water. It’s bonkers,” he said.

It could reportedly take up to two weeks to get back to work while they wait for water sampling results.

Bournemouth Echo:

Pete Miles

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Councillor Mark Anderson, BCP Council portfolio holder for environment, cleansing and waste, said: “Following heavy rainfall last week and poor sampling results for our routine monitoring of shellfish beds in Poole Harbour, we have needed to close certain areas of Poole Harbour to shellfish gathering.

“Additional sampling is being carried out and once the required sampling confirms all is satisfactory, this closure will be lifted and the shellfish beds reopened. We thank everyone for their understanding during this period.

Bournemouth Echo:

Councillor Mark Anderson

“People can still swim in these waters. The Environment Agency undertakes sampling of these designated bathing waters regularly and we continue to liaise with them and will only issue guidance if and when necessary.

“Whilst the council is not the regulatory authority with regards sewage from storm overflows, we remain committed to reducing pollution in the harbour.

"Hence we have established a stakeholder group which includes the Environment Agency and Wessex Water, which aims to share understanding of the technical challenges and where possible influence decisions over investment in sewerage infrastructure.”

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Storm overflows are generally only in use during heavy rainfall to protect properties from flooding when storm water overwhelms the network.

Bournemouth Echo: Poole Harbour.

Wessex Water said: “Following last week’s heavy rainfall in the Poole Harbour area and poor results from routine shellfish monitoring, the council have closed certain areas of Poole Harbour to shellfish gathering.

“We are working with the council, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to understand what factors may have led to the poor sample results.”

Cllr Anderson previously wrote to Dorset MPs urging them to support the Sewage Inland Waters Bill, which would place a duty on water companies to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged into rivers and other inland waters.