Man and boy... John Derek Jones has fished from Greenfield Dock all his life
By Nick Bourne
As TV cameras put the spotlight on Dee estuary cockle fishing, local fishermen set up community groups to regenerate the docks
For three generations John Derek Jones' family have fished the Dee estuary at Greenfield, Flintshire.
His grandfather used the Dee as a larder, putting food on his family's table, followed by his father who became a commercial fisherman in the 1960s.
But back then, fishing the Dee was a lot different as pollution meant fishermen had to go further away from Flintshire's industrial bank side to find fish.
"Now, it has never been so clean," said Mr Jones, 52, who has fished the Dee man and boy.
"As soon as the heavy industry left, things started to change," he said.
"Within weeks there were mussels on the bottom of the boats and that hadn't been seen for a long time."
Those changes started in the 1980s, said Mr Jones. Now, as well as casual anglers, there are about 40 commercial fishermen on the Dee estuary who are licensed to spend six months of the year, July-December, cockle fishing.
The rest of the time they land seasonal catches, including bass, flounder, shrimp and others, selling their produce at markets as well as hotels and restaurants.
The work of the Dee fishermen features on Alan Titchmarsh's new ITV programme, The Seasons (Sunday, 16 May, 7pm), when a camera crew follow Connah's Quay fisherman Keith Marland, 64, on to the Dee cockle beds.
Mr Marland, whose other job is to maintain all the buoyancy aids on the Dee for the Environment Agency, hopes the programme will raise the profile of the area's fishing industry.
More than 40 commercial fisherman work on the Dee estuary
"People don't seem to realise the heritage we have got here with the docks and the fishing," he said.
"You used to catch salmon here and there were so many boatyards."
Four months ago, Mr Marland and other Deeside fishermen set up a group, Quay Watermans and Recreational Association, hoping to mirror the success at nearby Greenfield Dock.
There, improvement work started last year to make it more popular with visitors, giving them access to the Dee.
Due to its central location, Greenfield Dock is also seen as a focal point for the new
Flintshire coastal path
which stretches from Chester, via Connah's Quay, Greenfield and Mostyn over to Talacre and Prestatyn.
"They have done a terrific job at Greenfield but Connah's Quay is the first part of the coastal path, so the ambition is to regenerate the dock too," said Mr Marland. "We have got the muscle, but we need the financial assistance."
At Greenfield, partners in a group called Friends of Greenfield Dock, including fishermen like John Jones and organisations such as Flintshire Council, managed to secure funding to pay for reclamation and improvement works.
At Connah's Quay, the Quay Watermans and Recreational Association hope to rebuild a slipway giving users direct access to the Dee along with other improvement work, subject to securing the cash.
"There is a lot of potential here," said Mr Marland.