Southern fishermen in the eye of the storm –

Southern fishermen in the eye of the storm Published:  12 February, 2014

A FISHERMEN’S leader from southern England has spoken of the battle he and his colleagues are facing amid the floods and gale sweeping that part of the country.

Tony Delahunty, Chairman of the NFFO South East Committee, and NFFO Chairman-elect, said it was not unknown for the catching industry to face disruption from gales at this time of year, but the relentless series of storms totalling 70 so far was taking a very heavy toll.

He issued this dramatic statement: ‘From the Thames to the West Country, the relentless ferocity of the wind has affected all fishermen from small inshore boats to the larger vessels.

‘There has been no let up in this weather since the middle of December and looking forward the forecast for this week is more of the same.

‘Fishermen are not earning any money; they also grave concerns about the damage the gales have caused to fixed gear. 

‘After a poor start last year they are taking another battering and the money has to be found to replace pots, rope, etc.  It is a desperately worrying time. ‘The combination of high tides and extreme gales has hammered infrastructures, including vessels, harbours, sea defences and gears. The costs will run into many millions. Furthermore, the fish markets ashore are struggling because there is no product.’ 

Looting is now emerging as a problem, Delahunty revealed. He continued: ‘The heavy swell has caused major damage to sea defences, harbours and shingle beaches. There are also real concerns for the stocks as, crabs, lobsters and whelks are being found washed up on the beach.

‘All of this amounts to a serious setback for the industry at a time when the boats have enough to contend with, adapting to new marine protected areas, quota reductions and the imminent arrival of a discard ban.’ Delahunty said that in the North Sea the whitefish and the pelagic fisheries are facing different but equally serious problems due to the delay in resolving the mackerel dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands is having a knock-on effect on the EU-Norway agreement which should have been settled by now.

‘All of this adds up to a very troubling time for our industry’, he warned.

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