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Foul weather hurts fishing industry’s peak period

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ROUGH seas and poor weather have led to the worst period of fishing for ‘12 to 15 years’, hitting the industry during what is usually the most lucrative time of the season, the president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association has said.

Storm Eleanor's strong winds and powerful waves batter the Island Picture: PETER MOURANT (20322180)

Don Thompson said that although the weather was beginning to improve, fishermen would now need to spend days sorting out tangled fishing gear left in the sea during the storms.

The poor weather also affected freight ships, which were unable to dock in the Island on a number of occasions, leading to a shortage of fresh food in supermarkets.

Mr Thompson added: ‘I would say the guys have been able to get out about two days out of 20, some on only one [day] – it has been really severe.

‘Even when the wind dropped we still had mountainous seas – it is hardly worth going out in that as you just end up having to spend ages untangling your gear.

‘I live and breathe weather, I know when it is just another gale or storm, but to get such a prolonged spell of bad weather lasting from December into January is quite unusual. I would say it has probably been the worst spell of bad weather for 12 to 15 years. Before we can get fishing again we will need to spend three to four days just sorting out our gear.’

Mr Thompson also said that the storms had hit at one of the most lucrative times of the season and that the disruption would cause particular hardship for the fleet’s less well-established fishermen, who did not have extra fishing equipment.

He said: ‘The boys tend to do more refitting and repainting in the summer and make their money in the winter. The weeks around the Christmas and winter period are probably the most important time for us, as prices are higher. If you do not make any money in those times, then you are likely to struggle for the rest of the year.’

The JFA president added that he was confident that the Jersey fishing fleet would recover.

He said: ‘I think most people are being quite pragmatic about it – it is just the nature of fishing during winter.

‘If you go down to the Harbour, there are some great characters down there. With fishing, if it is not EU regulations its the weather, you just learn to cope in the face of adversity.’

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