East Yorkshire MP called in to help solve fish war Published: 19 July, 2006
BRIDLINGTON fishermen are rallying the support of their local MP in their dispute with French trawlers.
East Yorkshire member Greg Knight – who is a strong supporter of the pound and Britain regaining her exclusive fishing rights – has been asked to take up the issue with the Government.
Three weeks ago French trawlers fished across the lobster pots of the Yorkshire men, causing damage to gear estimated at well over £300,000 – and one vessel was actually fishing illegally inside the 12 mile limit.
The dispute threatened to turn into an ugly and potentially violent situation, but a Royal Naval vessel HMS Cattistock arrived on the scene and arrested one French trawler, the L’arc en Ciel and the skipper was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay £2,250 costs when he appeared before Grimsby magistrates a day later.
However, the Bridlington fishermen believe the French will be back and they have asked Conservative MP Greg Knight to plead their case with the Government.
But Garry Hodgson, vice chairman of Bridlington and Flamborough Fisherman’s Society, believes the fine will not stop further incidents.
“We welcome the prosecution, but why did it take the Navy protection vessel nine days to take action? Also, in relation to the money the French will have made from their catches, the fine will make very little difference.”
He wants Mr Knight to see if a protection vessel can be placed in the vicinity of the East Coast of Yorkshire for a prolonged period, especially now the lobster season is in full swing and will be followed by the crab season in September.
“We are writing to MP Greg Knight to see if there is anything he can do about quicker action by the protection vessel.
“The Government would not let any other business suffer in the way we have.”
Sue Willson, secretary to the Bridlington and Flamborough Fishermen’s Society, said there had been no further incidents and she hoped the message of the fine had got back to the French fleet which is based at Boulogne and nearby Etaples.
“All we want is a productive lobster and crab season and no trouble with anyone whatever their nationality.”
Defra said there had been a delay in getting a fishery protection vessel to the scene at the end of June because she had to hurriedly return to port due to unforeseen circumstances. But aircraft were now being deployed along the coast to monitor the situation.
French trawlers are not the only problem facing East Yorkshire fishermen. A special report will appear in the August edition of FISHupdate.
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