New nautical chart mark to protect crab pots

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has welcomed a new initiative to give greater protection for local fishermen who have had their fishing gear damaged or lost, costing them £thousands and putting their businesses at risk.

Mr George had previously pressed UK authorities to pursue the French Government to prosecute French vessels which have allegedly towed away Cornish crab pots and other fixed gear placed around the 6 mile limit (the limit up to which some foreign vessels are permitted to fish).  More recently, some fishermen have complained that they have often lost crab pots when ships have dropped anchor on them or fouled the ropes which are attached to them.

The Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has assured Mr George, that he will introduce measures to help protect local fishermen around the Lizard.

Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the MCA, wrote to Mr George, telling him that:  “Working with the UK Hydrographic Office, I am pleased to tell you that we are making some changes to the relevant nautical charts to draw attention to the presence of crab pots.  The charts will be annotated with the words ‘fish pots’, and the local pilot instructions for Lizard Point to Falmouth will include the following text:

‘Fishing pots.

An unusually dense concentration of crab pots extends up to 6 miles off the coast between Lizard Point and Nare Point, 9 miles NNE.  Much of this gear is unmarked and creates a risk of fouling to vessels anchoring, particularly in the deeper water offshore.'”

Mr George said:

“Local fishermen deserve protection.  Most are small local boats – often single handed – and cannot afford these losses.  Some have had their crab pots towed away or damaged by larger foreign vessels and there has been an increasing trend of larger ships mooring temporarily in the approaches to Falmouth causing hundreds of pounds of damage and threatening the livelihoods of local fishermen.  I welcome the initiative by the MCA and the Hydrographic Office and I hope that it will improve the situation.”

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