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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Quota-hit fishermen head south
Jonathan Morris
BBC News Online, Plymouth

Jake Adams
Jake Adams: Gloomy outlook for fishing
Peterhead to Plymouth is a two-day boat journey for Scottish fishermen forced out of the North Sea by quota restrictions.

But for the men who are restricted to fishing just 15 days of the month in the North Sea, it is worth the haul.

Scottish fishermen are pouring into Plymouth as they seek new waters away from quota restrictions.

Weeks spent away from home is the way of life for the new nomads.

In past years, father-of-three Jake Adams, 54, would have been at home in Lossiemouth after fishing for cod and other white fish in the North Sea.

How falling stocks have hit businesses

But the current European fishing deal to protect stocks, limits Scottish fishing boats to 15 days a month in the North Sea.

If the fishermen work the bass fisheries in the English Channel for two months they have saved up 30 days of fishing time in the North Sea.

Mr Adams told BBC News Online: "We would rather not be here, but we have no option.

"We still have mortgages to pay."

Cod on trawler
It's the best cod fishing I have seen in 20 years, but they are saying there is no cod
Jake Adams

He maintains that the cod numbers are still healthy in the North Sea.

"It's the best cod fishing I have seen in 20 years, but they are saying there is no cod.

"That is just ridiculous."

Mr Adams has been in Plymouth for five weeks, pair fishing for bass on the Peterhead-based Courageous III.

He reckons he will be there for another two weeks before the season is over and he heads back home.

The 12 Scottish trawlers berthed in Plymouth will then aim to get by on their restricted quotas, or head elsewhere, maybe even the Continent.

Skipper Steven Hay, said: "If we can get licences we'll go there.

The Courageous III, rights, with pair trawler Rosemount
The Courageous III, right, with pair trawler Rosemount
"It's not an option any more, it's a necessity to make ends meet."

Dave Pessell, managing director of Plymouth Trawler Agents, said there was no hard feeling among Plymouth fishermen towards the newcomers.

"I have been fishing for 30 years and would have done the same in their position," he said.

"As fishermen we welcome them. It is not going to hit the bass stocks."

The trawlers, working in pairs, tow nets 64m across in the hunt for bass.

But the practice has come under fire from conservationists who say it is killing hundreds of dolphins every year who get caught up in the nets.

One West Country MP has called for a total ban on bass fishing.

But the fishermen say they are not to blame.

Sold down river

"We have not seen any dolphins," said Mr Adams.

"We saw one on another boat, but they swim through the nets."

For Mr Adams, the pressure from government, on quotas and by-catch has taken the shine off the job, which he has done for 36 years.

"Fishing is rubbish now. It used to be good, but we have been sold down the river.

"You have a job, but you are not allowed to do it.

"How depressing is that?"

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