Login Register

Fishing fleet suffer Bristol Channel woes

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

Comments (0)

The livelihoods of Bristol Channel's fleet fishermen has been jeopardised by what the owner of one firm called "the worst winter for 30 years".

Huge waves and strong winds have been regularly battering the harbour at Ilfracombe, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to equipment and stopping boats from going to sea.

According to fishermen repairing nets and unravelling ropes tangled by the storms, many of them have only made it out of the harbour a handful of times since Christmas.

S&P Fish director Scott Wharton owns four boats in Ilfracombe and said the weather had been a serious blow.

He said: "It's been bad, the lack of sea time. It's been the worst winter for the 30 years we've been trading."

He said his fleet had only left harbour around six times since December, adding: "We've hardly been at sea this winter, February was a complete washout. There will be three or four months playing catch-up but we can hopefully carry on."

S&P employs four freelance fishermen for each boat and Mr Wharton said the winter had been very difficult. He said a lot of Ilfracombe fishermen were now living in debt, adding: "Luckily they've got landlords who are understanding of how fishing is."

Mr Wharton is now assessing whether making a living from fishing is still viable.

Ilfracombe harbour master Rob Lawson called the conditions fishermen had endured this winter "extreme".

He said: "The fishing fleet has been unable to sail for the greater part of the last ten weeks, denying fishermen of their incomes."

According to Mr Lawson, thousands of pounds worth of fishing gear was damaged or lost at sea.

Another Ilfracombe fisherman, Geoff Huelin, said he was lucky to have stored all his equipment while his boat was being repaired over winter. But added that most fishermen's fortunes had not been so good."

Read more from Western Daily Press

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters