Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Thursday, 27 December 2007

Fears for Suffolk fishing industry

By Joe Lumley
BBC News Norwich

A day in the life of a fishing boat skipper.

"We're hoping to catch skate and sole", barked skipper Paul Klyne over the din of the catamaran's diesel motor, "all cod would be an absolute disaster!"

EU quotas meant only 10,000 tonnes of cod could be taken legally from the North Sea by British boats this year.

The rest that are caught have to be thrown back into the sea.

It is a practice which Mr Klyne, a Suffolk fisherman for 23 years, described as "shameful".

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see the amount of cod coming up in our nets and lines day after day", said Mr Klyne as his vessel lurches out of Southwold harbour.

Less than ten boats now fish out of Lowestoft and Southwold, compared to more than 100 in the 1980s.

"The government and the EU has squeezed the fishing industry. Their ideal would be to make us extinct," said Mr Klyne as he threw out the first line of the day.

Mr Klyne's father was also a trawler owner but his 18-year-old son Samuel will not become a third generation fisherman.

Paul Klyne
Skipper Paul Klyne with his catch after a day at sea

"He's doing an electrician apprenticeship because he knows you cannot carve a prosperous career out of fishing any more."

The crew was hoping to catch skate and sole, but pessimistically predict most of the catch would be cod.

"We try our best to catch other species of fish but you cannot avoid catching cod," said Mr Klyne.

"We have a small fishing vessel and we can only catch what is on our doorstep."

When asked to predict the future of an already decimated fishing industry, the 43-year-old answers: "In 20 years time there will be plenty of fish but no fishermen to catch them.

"I'm one of the youngest fishermen left - there are no youngsters coming in - why would there be?"

As the last of the lines nets and lobster pots are reeled in the crews worst fears were confirmed.

They landed just two skate, four lobsters, and two stone of soles which will be sold at Mr Klyne's shop, Samantha K's, for about £140.

It costs the skipper about £200 a day to run his boat, so he has not even broke even.

More depressingly, the £900 of cod which was caught has had to be discarded.

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