Death throes of fishing industry Fishing leaders yesterday sounded the death knell for Yarmouth’s once-proud industry, with cod stocks depleted and the quay cement bone-dry.
Just a few years ago, the town’s harbour was packed with inshore vessels all vying to cast their long lines out to a plentiful supply of fish.
But today, there are just two full-time fishermen, with two dropping out of the trade completely in the last month.
Its demise echoes that of Lowestoft, where a once flourishing deep-sea fishing industry has ceased to exist and a dwindling number of inshore boats face an uncertain future.
Yesterday, Paul Lines, secretary of the Yarmouth and Gorleston Inshore Fishing Association, said that with no cod left in the nearby seas, there was no room for the men to stay in the industry.
The 47-year-old father-of-three said: “You can tell when the industry’s thriving, the quay-side cement is always wet from fish dumped on it. But here the cement’s been dry for quite a while.
“Catches have been right down since 1999 and this year there’s no cod at all. We all knew the industry was in dire straits but no one thought it would get this bad this quickly.”
Just three years ago, there were 20 full-time fishermen based at the harbour and working up to 50 miles out at sea – now just the two remain.
Instead, fishermen have given up their boats, which cost about £30,000 a year to maintain, or diversified into other areas of seafaring.
Mr Lines set up his Enviroserve company six months ago and now uses his 30ft boat to conduct environmental surveys and ferry workers to oil rigs.
Others use their boats as sea-bound security stations and only go fishing when there’s none of the more lucrative work to be had.
None holds out hope of ever returning to the days when Yarmouth fishermen landed £¾m of cod a week.
“Cod stocks have been completely mismanaged,” said Mr Lines. “Unless there’s been some environmental disaster in the North Sea which they’re not telling us about, the measures have not been put in place for the fish to thrive.