Angry fishermen say two-day Wash fishing ban cost them ‘at least £36,000’

ANGRY fishermen say a two-day ban on fishing in The Wash cost them at least £36,000 in lost trade, and say the action was not needed.

Following a chemical spill in the River Nene near Peterborough last Monday, Boston Borough Council was advised by the Food Standards Agency to ban harvesting of cockles while tests were done to make sure the water was safe.

The ban lasted from Tuesday to Thursday, stopping two valuable days for Boston fishermen just five days into the cockle season.

Ken Bagley, of the Boston and District Fishermen’s Association, branded last week’s decision a ‘farce’.

He told The Standard: “It never even got out the river, and then it would have taken years to reach The Wash where we fish.

“I could have told them how far it was away from us. It would have taken three years to get to us. They should be made to pay.”

The fishermen will be out again on Monday, as they only do three days a week so the FSA opened the Wash on days they would have been off anyway.

He said that each boat has lost at least £2,000 for the 46 boats on the waters, 18 of which are from Boston. That does not take into account running costs or staff expenses.

Fishermen took back to the waters on Monday, as they do not fish on Fridays.

Boston Borough Council’s action was echoed by East Lindsey District Council and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, with all three following advice from the FSA.

Trevor Darnes, Boston Borough Council’s principal environmental health officer, said: “As soon as we had received the FSA recommendations we took swift action to put in place the necessary closure notices.

“We worked closely with the fishermen to try to ensure that any cockles landed just prior to ban coming into force were quarantined until test results were known.

“Fortunately tests confirmed there was no likelihood of contamination and therefore the cockles were released to market.”

The spill, which killed 4,000 fish in the Nene, is thought to have been caused by vandals.

Portfolio holder for environmental health, Coun Stephen Woodliffe said: “There was a very serious chemical spill in the River Nene and therefore the FSA and the council had to err on the side of safety.

“We fully appreciate the devastating effects this has had on the local fishing industry but our officers worked hard to try to minimise the impact of the ban.

“I am pleased that closure notices have been lifted so soon and the fishermen can now resume harvesting cockles.”

The fishermen say they will lobby MEP Derek Clark in a bid to air their frustrations over the way the two-day ban was handled.