Fishing fears over Coastguard cuts plan –

Fishing fears over Coastguard cuts plan Published:  17 December, 2010

FISHING leaders have expressed fear over Government plans to reduce the number of coastguard stations around the UK, warning that the move could put lives at risk.

The coastguard facilities in two key fishing areas, Humber and Falmouth in the West Country are being reduced to daylight hours operation only.

Overall, the plans is to close 10 of the existing 18 stations.The British service will have just three major centres in Aberdeen, Dover and Solent.

Bridlington in East Yorkshire is the base for the Humber Coastguard and also the centre of the UK’s largest concentration of shellfish trawlers.

Steve Cowan of the Bridlington and Flamborough Fishermen’ Association, said last night that he and his members regarded the Coastguard operation as the fourth emergency service. He said local knowledge was important in sea rescues and was therefore vital to local fishing communities. He has urged the Government to think again. One trawler skipper contacted the local BBC station last night to warn that the plan made his job and that of his crew members more dangerous.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the proposals were a real threat to the UK fishing fleet.

The move has also been criticised by members of Devon County Council, which includes the important Brixham fishing port in its jurisdiction. The council plans to lobby the Government on the issue, warning that lives will be put at risk.  Falmouth Coastguard is often at the centre of many fishing rescue incidents and only a few weeks ago it spearheaded a major and successful  rescue operation when a large Faroese factory trawler with over 100 people on board caught fire in the Atlantic.

There are also similar fears in fishing and shipping communities about plans to transfer helicopter rescue services from the RAF and Royal Navy to private companies.