Friday, 04 September 2015

Bay boost for Furness fishing industry

THE Furness fishing industry is set for a major boost after a new company secured lucrative fishing rights.

DEAL Kingfisher Seafoods Limited company directors, from left, Dr Omar Namor and Rob BensonHARRY ATKINSON REF: 50044877B001

Morecambe Bay Shellfish Farms Ltd has been set up by Rob Benson, Dr Omar Namor and Jim Andrews, and the firm has secured a five-year lease on the foreshore running from Rampside to Askam, including the sea-facing side of Walney, from Boughton Estates.

The firm has pledged to restrict fishing to Morecambe Bay fishermen only.

This would cut the number of fisherman entitled to fish in the area from the 450 registered North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority permit holders, from across Europe, to only around 60 locally-based fishermen.

Sustainability has been a key factor and Dr Andrews, a fisheries expert, has helped mastermind a plan to ensure fishermen can take home up to 1,100kg of mussels each tide and transform the industry into a 52-week profession which in turn will create apprenticeship opportunities.

The trio are confident the new arrangement will reinvigorate the Furness economy and help to promote a positive image for Morecambe Bay following the cockling disaster in 2004, in which 21 people lost their lives.

Mr Benson, who grew up in the fishing industry, said: “Fishing for mussels as it is at the moment means the period where people can get out and fish is limited to two to three months – there’s a maximum of around 25 to 30 days a year.

“Because we’re reducing numbers it means there are more mussels to go around and we can basically keep some of these guys in a 52-week-a-year job.”

Dr Namor added: “The aim is to create sustainable fishing.

“Everybody with a permit will be local.”

Talks to secure the lease have been ongoing since 2006 and today’s announcement has been heralded as a major milestone by the directors.

Just five per cent of the mussel beds will be opened initially and dredging will be used to move mussels and ensure the beds are well-managed.

This in turn will benefit birds feeding on the mussels as well as the bay’s environment.

Dr Namor added: “This is good business, for us and from the point of view of the fishermen.

“Areas are known for their produce, the idea is we can turn around the impression of the cockling disaster and create something which could be a flagship of how things should be done properly.”

Have your say

Now now, you are making an assumption... Did I mention a problem with the view G Fell? & I have NO ISSUE with locals earning a living. My concern is the lack of respect to other road users when vans park up and obstruct or quad bikes pull out on a busy road where speeding is still a problem... I never even mentioned the mess that is left behind daily.

Posted by Coast resident on 26 February 2013 at 22:36

Coast road idiot, I'm sorry that someone wants to make a living and put food on the table at the expense of your view,
What were they thinking?

Posted by G Fell on 26 February 2013 at 13:44

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