A NEW fishing dispute is threatening on the rich shell fishing grounds off East Yorkshire - involving local boat owners and Scottish fishermen.
The Scottish boats are due to start scallop fishing along a 30 square mile area of the coast, but shell fishermen from Bridlington say they have had to remove hundreds of pots to make way for them. The Bridlington boat owners claim the move, which is perfectly legal, threatens a livelihood they have built up over the past 20 years years.
Bridlington is now Britain's largest shell fishing port with a multi-million pound export market, supplying crabs and lobsters restaurants and hotels in France, Spain and Italy. The number of boats operating out of the port has more than doubled in the past few years.
Gary Hodgson, spokesman for the Bridlington Shell fishermen told BBC radio that he and his colleagues were worried by the impact on their own industry especally during a time of recession - and there was also concern about the long term impact on his industry.
Local fisheries officer Dave McCandless said in the same interview that while scallop fishing could potentially cause damage to shellfish pots, negotiation was the best way forward.. He also stressed that the Scottish boats had every legal right to fish in that area.
The Scottish fishermen have denied instigating an invasion, saying they have given plenty of notice of where they intend to fish, adding they are always ready to negotiate.
The Bridlington crews were involved in a similar dispute two years ago - that time involving French white fish trawlermen who they claimed were turning over the pots. It was eventually settled by peace talks held in London and there has been little trouble since.
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