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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Severe storms have decimated mussel stocks off the Furness coast, a fisherman has claimed.

SEVERE storms have decimated mussel stocks off the Furness coast, a fisherman has claimed.

Rob Benson is a partner in Kingfisher Seafoods, in Forge Close, Barrow, and has been fishing off the Furness coast for several years.

Ahead of recent storms, Mr Benson raised concerns about mussel stocks off the Furness Coast but says following a lack of action the beds have been “decimated” by strong weather.

He said: “What’s happened in the past two weeks has destroyed what there is of the mussel

fishery.

“Until now one man would have been able to go and get maybe a tonne of mussels in a tide but after the storms to gather the same volume of mussels it would take maybe five men.

“For us operating a business it’s proving very difficult, we have managed to move the value up slightly but it’s hard.

“If you were to take February, it’s a four-week month; men fishing mussels will be able to work maybe five days because of the size of the tides.”

Mr Benson, whose family heritage is in the Flookburgh fishing business, said he had been hoping to fish some seed mussel from near Foulney Island. He added: “I have been saying it’s at risk but we were told we couldn’t take it, now it’s all gone.”

Mr Benson, along with partners Dr Omar Namor and Dr Jim Andrews set up Morecambe Bay Shellfish Farms Ltd with ambitious plans for a five-year lease on the foreshore running from Rampside to Askam, including the sea-facing side of Walney, from Boughton Estates – however the plans have hit difficulties.

The firm is involved in a legal wrangle over who owns the rights and whether the company has authority to restrict fishing.

Mr Benson said if the partners are successful they will be able to re-lay mussel beds and help

secure work for a large number of

fishermen.

The company hopes to clarify its rights for the area this year.

Under its plans, just five per cent of the mussel beds will be opened initially and dredging will be used to move mussels and ensure the beds are well-managed, with fresh seed mussel

being laid across the area.

Have your say

Did they complain October, November and December when the parking on the coast road was taken over by Vans, wagons with Hiabs and huge bags were filled with cockles I presume to be sold to France and Spain at huge profits. Everything in the oceans is there as a gift not to be owned by individuals, same applies to the beaches. Does the Crown own everything below low water mark, don't they go far out when the tide retreats to gather their harvest. This is not the cockling done by their grandfathers etc. I believe the rights should be with locals only, which is one reason why fishermen from Flookborough are suffering, so now they are casting their nets around the coast of Barrow and now want to have all the rights, to the exclusion of the fishermen of Barrow and Walney. Keep the bridge open and keep them out.

Posted by June on 12 February 2014 at 15:32

yes the mussel have dissapeared
this is nature it happens every now and then
with the storms ect
what is not right is your proposal
for you to manage the whole coast line round this area
your doing it for your own greed just like you did with the cockles
people should be able to nip down the beach when ever they want and get a bucket for there own use
people should be allowed to dig bait on the mussel beds
people have paid for there permits

i say no to your operation its illegal

Posted by mb on 10 February 2014 at 10:09

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