Guernsey Press

Alderney fishermen refusing to land crab and lobster catches

ALDERNEY diners will have to get by without their shellfish pie over Easter, after an ‘extraordinary’ decision by the island’s professional fishermen to stop landing their catches of crab and lobster locally.

Amanda Jane skipper Lewis Main has been disappointed by the new mooring arrangements available to him after the new pontoon's instalment.. Photo supplied by David Nash. (31987194)

Lewis Main, the skipper of Amanda Jane, and Dave Gillingham jnr, of the Katie C, appealed, back in February, for fairer treatment regarding the use of Braye Harbour’s Commercial Quay, but with a £159,000 pontoon now slated to be installed in the next few weeks, they have decided to land their catches elsewhere.

The pontoon, which is under construction in Guernsey, has been deemed necessary in order to avoid passengers having to use a wet ladder to disembark from small ferries and water taxis.

The knock-on effect of the preparatory work on the fishermen, they claim, is that they are now required to use moorings which have no easy access.

They have been lowering half a tonne of bait every morning using ropes and an old ladder.

Other moorings are available but these are only usable in certain wind conditions, they have said.

The new 16m-long pontoon is to be fixed to the southern end of commercial berth number one, where it will join to the base of the existing dinghy pontoon with an access bridge.

General Services Committee chairwoman Lin Maurice said the most recent meeting she had had with the fishermen and the Harbour Office had ended amicably. She described their decision not to land crab and lobster as ‘extraordinary’.

‘That arrangement was that the fishing boats can tie up at the Commercial Quay to load their boats with bait etc. and then the Eastern berth would be available to them also with a fender to assist them with mooring,’ she said.

‘When the pontoon is in place for the season they will not be able to moor both boats in line but can raft up.

‘In addition, as part of the agreement, the Harbour Master offered an extra mooring nearer to the quay with the fishermen keeping their allocated harbour moorings.’

She reiterated her message that ‘there are no permanent moorings at the Commercial Quay’ and stressed that cargo boats have to dock weekly.

‘I am sure that the fishermen understand that the pontoon has to be installed for the season as we need to ensure the safe landing of passengers from small ferries. Alderney’s residents and visitors to the island will be pleased to have this pontoon, which will be removed when the season comes to a close,’ she said.

McAllister’s Wet Fish Shop owner Dave McAllister confirmed that locally-landed shellfish deliveries had stopped, but said other fish supplies were unaffected.

He did not wish to be drawn into any discussion on the dispute beyond saying ‘I hope it will be resolved soon’.

Local restaurants are now facing the start of a new tourist season without the fresh, locally-caught crab and lobster dishes they usually seek to offer.

‘While it is positive that change is being made to enhance the visitor welcome and ensure that they can disembark in a safe way, it is a shame that it will have a massive impact on fishermen and Alderney restaurants’ supply,’ said a statement from the Georgian House on Victoria Street.

‘Visitors and locals alike will miss being able to enjoy our local shellfish.’