MP calls for better protection for local fishermen
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, is urging Ministers to ensure that local fishermen are protected from having their fishing gear damaged by large vessels.
A number of fishermen have contacted Mr George to protest in the strongest terms that their gear is being damaged or lost and is costing them thousands of pounds. One local fisherman, Jeremy Hosking of Porthleven, has warned that if this goes on “it will finish me!”
Mr George has raised concerns with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and with the Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, and has called for measures to be introduced to help protect local fishermen.
Mr George had previously pressed UK authorities to pursue the French Government to prosecute French vessels which have allegedly towed away Cornish crab pots and other fixed gear placed around the 6 mile limit (the limit up to which some foreign vessels are permitted to fish). More recently, some fishermen have complained that they have often lost crab pots when ships have dropped anchor on them, fouled the ropes which are attached to them and other fixed gear or have found them damaged or destroyed by the anchors and chains of bulk shipping as they “sweep the sea bed, as the vessels swing in the swell, wind and tide.” This causes “loss of income associated with lost gear and time trying to sort out the mess at sea.”
Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the MCA, wrote to Mr George earlier this year, telling him that: “Working with the UK Hydrographic Office, I am pleased to tell you that we are making some changes to the relevant nautical charts to draw attention to the presence of crab pots.”
Mr George said: “This is a welcome first step and I understand that the MCA is looking at further ways to bring this issue to the attention of the marine community. However, the MCA has no direct enforcement powers and I am therefore urging Defra to ensure that more is done to improve the situation and to safeguard the livelihoods of our local fishermen.”
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