Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 14:00 UK

Scallop fishing off Bridlington 'threatens crabs'

Bridlington Harbour
Bridlington is Britain's busiest shellfishing port

Yorkshire crab fishermen have claimed their livelihoods could be put at risk by Scottish trawlers dredging for scallops in their fishing grounds.

Fishermen say over the past 20 years they have created a sustainable area for crab and lobster off the coast of Bridlington.

However from Wednesday, Scottish boats will be allowed to work a patch which includes part of the Yorkshire area.

This is legal under EU legislation but local fishermen are opposed to it.

They say it will plough up the seabed and kill shellfish.

Bridlington is Britain's busiest shellfishing port and is worth millions to the region's economy.

Local fishermen have cultivated an area which extends 15 miles off the Yorkshire coast in which to lay pots to catch crab and lobster.

'Not fair'

However, only the first six miles from the shore is protected by the North Eastern Sea Fishing Committee, and the sea beyond that is subject to EU fishing laws, meaning most of the fishermen's area is unprotected.

After meetings last week between the Scottish scallop fishermen and the Bridlington and Flamborough Fishermen's Society (BFFS) a 30 square mile area was agreed in which the scallops could be caught.

That decision has angered many East Yorkshire fishermen.

Skipper Tony Pockley said: "All they're doing is ploughing the crabs and lobsters into the ground and killing them.

Scalloping is a nomadic activity, we might work areas and then not come back to them for years
John Hermse, UK Scallop Association

"Why should we have to move all our fishing gear when we've been there for 20 years? It doesn't seem right, it doesn't seem fair."

Steve Cowan of the BFFS said the Scottish fishermen had given their Yorkshire counterparts a week to move their pots.

He said he was worried about how the seabed would recover from the scallop fishing.

"The ships work 24/7," he said.

"They can clear an area of four square miles in two days. When they're finished it's completely clear, it's like a farmer ploughing a field.

"It could take month and months, we don't know how long it will take to recover."

John Hermse, of the UK Scallop Association, said: "There has been no increase in scalloping activity levels from previous years.

"Scalloping is a nomadic activity, we might work areas and then not come back to them for years.

"We are working closely with local fishermen in Yorkshire to ensure fishing gear is not damaged."



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