Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 20:41 UK

Cockle industry 'at a standstill'

A Lincoln town's cockle industry has practically come to a standstill, local fishermen said.

They claimed soaring fuel prices and the falling price of cockles meant they could not afford to take their boats out from Boston.

It comes as fishermen from across Britain protested in Westminster against fuel prices.

The cockling season has just started and normally more than 20 trawlers would be heading out into the Wash.

Boston fisherman Ken Bagley said: "We only get paid what the factories tell us they're going to pay us. We can't put the price up... What the factories say the price of a cockle is is 200 a ton this year - last year it was 800 a ton. Fuel is three times as much what it was last year so we can't go."

His nephew Shane, who also owns a boat, added: "What we'll do is look for better markets if possible but if the markets don't come up with the prices well then I'm afraid a lot of the boats will be tied on to the quay still...

"Because mostly at this time of year we break the back of our yearly income, and with how low shellfish prices (are) this year and the rising cost of fuel, it isn't going to be so practical this year to do that."

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