Fisherman claim they are being 'priced out of port' in Lowestoft
PUBLISHED: 09:25 16 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:25 16 October 2015
A number of dedicated fishermen have expressed their anger by saying that they are being "priced out" of their historic home town port due to excessive charges being levied on new boats.
Long established fishermen, many of whom have relatives that have used the Lowestoft docks for generations, have criticised restrictions imposed by Associated British Ports (ABP), the harbour’s owner, for charging new boats nearly £9,500 a year – considerably more than the £2,000 paid by the 14 long term vessels under ten metres.
The fisherman say that their future growth is being ‘restricted’ and ‘discouraged’ and that the charges are to make way for renewable energy companies running large off-shore windfarms.
ABP have also been criticised for charging “inflated prices” for fishing vessels to moor and off-load their catch at Lowestoft- forcing the fishermen to find alternative moorings including at Southwold and Great Yarmouth and transport their catch by road.
Fisherman Lee Woollerton, 48, bought a fishing vessel with the aim of employing local people from his home port. He returned to fishing after working in the oil, gas and renewables sector.
He said: “I see it from everyone’s perspective, including ABP’s, and we welcome any industry to the town but not at the expense of an industry that could thrive if it was not being stifled by over inflated port charges.
“We understand that there are going to be great benefits from other sectors coming to the port of Lowestoft but to price out fishermen and restrict any growth in a town that was historically built on fishing, when there is clearly plenty of room for the inshore fleet and renewable energy, is disgraceful to say the least.
“On contacting the Lowestoft Port Authorities on several occasions to make enquiries into availability and prices, I was told that they (ABP) could not offer a berth for my vessel.”
An ABP spokesman said: “We are working closely with Waveney District Council, the New Anglia LEP, Peter Aldous MP and the fishing industry to secure the future of fishing in Lowestoft, whilst ensuring the town benefits from opportunities to grow its involvement in the offshore power generation industry.”
In reaction to the response, Mr Woollerton added: “How can they be doing that when they are not issuing fishing vessel clearances and charging 450pc higher rates?
“If they were supporting the east coast fishermen then they would be allowing fishing vessels to moor in Lowestoft and charging a reasonable amount for affordable workable moorings but this is not the case.”
Earlier this year, Scarlett Mummery started a campaign to help save Lowestoft fish market with the aim of supporting the industry and its heritage.
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