A fisherman and conservationist from West Bay who was honoured by the Queen for his work protecting marine life and making his industry more sustainable, has died aged 84.
David Sales spent 40 years of his 60-year fishing career in West Bay.
He was instrumental in a campaign for a wildlife protection enclosure 60 miles off West Bay and protecting marine life for which he received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2020.
David was a highly regarded and well-known character in West Bay, always happy to chat with locals and visitors alike about his conservation work and of course, the fish in Lyme Bay.
Photographer Neil Barnes ventured out with him on his fishing boat to take pictures of him for The West Bay Discovery Centre.
A post from the centre read: “We were very sad to hear of the passing of local fisherman David Sales.
“When were setting up the Discovery Centre, a few years ago, David was very helpful and answered our pleas for an insight into the local fishing industry.
“In 2020 David received a richly-deserved BEM for his services to commercial fishing and the environment. He was very much involved in the establishment of the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve. The reserve, although initially contentious, has been a great success in protecting the seabed and maintaining fish stocks, enabling low-impact fishing to continue.
“He fished out of West Bay for around 40 years of a 60-year career.
“He once said to us, ‘fishing has not been an easy life, you’ve got to love it!’ We send our sympathies to David’s wife Gillian and his family and friends.”
In the 1960s, David travelled to the Canada and Northern USA to study ways of protecting lobster stocks. On his return to the UK, David lobbied the authorities to introduce a bigger minimum size limit and ways to protect juvenile lobsters. Many of these measures became embedded in marine conservation.
South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen posted: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of one of our life members, David Sales of West Bay.
“David was a stalwart within South West fishing – being awarded the BEM for his tireless pursuit of sustainability. He will be much missed by many, not least by us. We send our love to his family.”
David was born in Surrey in 1937 and moved to Studland at the outbreak of the Second World War. He met Gillian Hampson in 1958 and they married the following year. They have three children, Jonathan, Nicola and Anna