Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 12:32 UK

French blamed over fishing gear

Lobster pots
Some fishermen say they have lost valuable lobster pots

Cornish fishermen are blaming French counterparts for wrecking gear worth thousands of pounds.

The Cornish claim French trawlers illegally come into UK waters and scoop up expensive crab and lobster pots along with their catch.

French fishermen say they try to avoid such problems and have agreed to meet to try to resolve the issue next month.

Mark Prowse from the Girl Pamela of Newlyn said he lost gear worth about 5,000.

We regret any losses incurred by Cornish fishermen
Brittany Fish Producers Organisation

Mr Prowse said the French regularly destroy equipment inside and outside the so-called six mile limit from the UK shore which is for fishing by UK-based boats only.

He told BBC News: "It happens all the time, brand new gear getting towed away.

"I don't know how people put up with it.

"Even when you come in the six-mile area they are still there.

"They know it's there, but they don't care."

The Brittany Fish Producers Organisation said in a statement: "We try to avoid such problems but it is impossible to guarantee that it will never happen.

"We continue to work with the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) and are confident we can work to avoid such incidents.

"We have arranged a meeting in June as a sign of our commitment to finding a workable solution, and regret any losses incurred by Cornish fishermen."

Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the CFPO said issues of towed gear happened "from time to time" despite pots being clearly marked.

He said: "It's not a situation we can tolerate and we shall be talking frankly with our French colleagues."

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