CONSERVATION restrictions are stopping Boston’s fishing fleet earning a living, say the fishermen.
The accusation was levelled at the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) and Natural England at a meeting of the Boston Fishermen’s Association and Lincolnshire UKIP MEP Derek Clarke on Wednesday.
At the public meeting, at the Golden Lion, the association of 20 independent boat owners told Mr Clarke their concerns over the Wash fishing quotas which were given to them by the IFCA.
Chairman Ken Baggerley said the number of estimations of fish, including cockles and muscles, by the IFCA were too low and had resulted in the fishing quota (1,500 tonnes of cockles) being fulfilled too soon. He said the fishermen had found and thought there were far more than the estimated 4,500-5,000 tonnes of cockles in the Wash.
He said: “We found a score last year and the year before that they didn’t know was there.”
He added that because the fishermen could not catch them it was resulting in what he called a ‘die-off’, when younger, stronger cockles work their way up a mound of cockles and rest on top but die rather than get caught, the resulting decomposition killing those below and ruining potential future stocks.
Eden Hannam, deputy chief executive for IFCA, told The Standard because of EU regulations, they have to prove the stock is available and do this by performing two surveys of 1,300 grab samples every 350 yards across the Wash.
He admitted there had been ongoing issues and said if the fishermen wanted to do their own surveys, the IFCA would be willing to write up the appropriate assessment to follow it up.
He said: “Nothing’s perfect, we have identified areas where we can work better with the fishermen.
“We are trying to come up with ways in which we can incorporate the issues.”