Keep big boats away, say Ferry fishermen

FISHERMEN at Felixstowe Ferry today welcomed calls to maintain the UK's six and 12-mile fishing zones.The European Parliament have voted to support that the zone is permanently protected - which is good news for Suffolk's fisherman as it would stave off interference from foreign trawlers.

FISHERMEN at Felixstowe Ferry today welcomed calls to maintain the UK's six and 12-mile fishing zones.

The European Parliament have voted to support that the zone is permanently protected - which is good news for Suffolk's fisherman as it would stave off interference from foreign trawlers.

However, a Felixstowe Ferry fisherman has demanded that their zone is increased from six miles to the maximum of 12.

Stephen Crawford said: "We're limited to six miles. That should be 12-miles full stop."

Mr Crawford said that small boats like his, which are under ten-foot long, are heavily constrained by the weather, meaning when he does fish he has to make the most of the opportunity.

But if a large foreign trawler had spent the previous three days fishing on the outskirts of their six-mile territory they would most likely return with a poor catch.

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Mr Crawford's father, Alan, who owns The Shed fish shop at the Ferry, said: "It means that if they take it [the zone] away the big boats will be on my doorstep.

"What little is left they would wipe it all out, we can't compete with them so there would be nothing for us."

Nationally a Conservative amendment to the Stevenson Report on fishing, overwhelmingly supported by MEPs from across Europe, insisted that the UK's 12-mile territorial limits should be permanently protected.

Speaking after the vote, Geoffrey Van Orden, Conservative MEP for the eastern counties of England, said: "Securing the coastal fisheries off the eastern counties is one piece of good news for our hard pressed fishing communities.

"Now I would like to see our own fishing industry getting more benefit from our own territorial waters."

Mr Van Orden said East Anglian fisheries were already threatened by proposals to close the whitefish sector in the North Sea.

"I will be keeping up the pressure on the European Council and the Commission to support the Parliament's decision and save our fishing fleets and the onshore industries that depend on them," he said.

The Stevenson Report now states that six to 12 mile coastal zone should be maintained and established as an element of the Common Fisheries Policy for an unlimited period.

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