Fishermen in protest over ban

PUBLISHED: 13:34 24 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:58 15 June 2010

LYME Regis fishermen are fighting against a 60 square mile fishing ban, fearing it will ruin their business.

LYME Regis fishermen are fighting against a 60 square mile fishing ban, fearing it will ruin their business.Defra announced the move to cordon off an area, saying it was to protect marine wildlife and prevent scallop dredging.But local fishermen claim the move is uncalled for, saying there was a gentlemen's agreement and with the extra travel time now involved - along with rising fuel costs - will cripple them financially.The Wason family, with John and sons Paul, Barry, Chris, and grandson Luke, waved banners declaring their total of 165 years in the trade.Paul said: "I was absolutely gutted when I heard the news. I have been working here for 40 years and never had to work away for an awful long time."And with the increased fuel prices it's just like having a cut rubbed with salt."We have been trying to fight them for years, but they have managed to convince the government they are right and we are wrong. It will have a big affect on around 40 boats - from Brixham to Weymouth. But we are smack bang in the middle of it."With travel time now expected at three to four hours, the resulting shorter working days and extra fuel costs, concerns over an already depleting fishing quota are exacerbated.Steve Postles, fisherman and restaurant owner at the Jurassic Seafood Wine Bar feels there should have been better communication and more compromise."I think the ban is well over the top. They didn't speak to us and there's been no compromise," he said."There should be some support and help from local MPs and councillors, as it affects Lyme Regis and Beer the most as we're right in the ban area. "And it doesn't just affect the fishermen, but their families, and, in the end, many other jobs. I run a seafood restaurant too, so it has a knock on effect on my staff."With recent challenges, some are questioning if the trade is still viable.Fisherman Ruth Verity added: "I think it's a dying industry. I started a couple of years ago and the business has since gone down."However, Devon Wildlife Trust's director, Paul Gompertz, congratulated the government initiative. He said: "This is one small step for marine conservation, but one giant leap for marine-kind. It finally acknowledges that our seas need vital life-support systems like Lyme Bay reefs. It's taken 18 years, hundreds of thousands of fundraised pounds, the energy and dedication of many people, and a host of setbacks along the way. But it's all been worth it to see a new day dawn for the future of marine conservation in this country."According to Defra consultations, 73 per cent of respondents were in favour of the exclusion zone in Lyme Bay to protect vulnerable habitats and wildlife.A joint campaign between Devon Wildlife Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and The Wildlife Trusts collected over 7,500 signatures through a postcard campaign and a further 3,000 people supported an on-line petition calling for the protection of the area from scallop-dredging.

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