Shell fishermen hatch lucrative plan for town
PLANS to develop one of Bridlington's most lucrative industries could be under way within months, the Mail can reveal.
Despite national reports lamenting an ever-increasing decline in the fishing industry, Bridlington has proved to be "holding its own", according to Harbour Commissioners chairman George Traves.
Part of Bridlington's success comes from the fact vessel owners and skippers turned their back on cod almost two decades ago to diversify into shellfish such as lobster and crab.
The move has proved to be a canny one, with figures from the Marine Management Organisation showing last year Bridlington's landings netted £5.7 million – up from £5.1 million in 2010 and £4.8 million in 2009.
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Last year, £5.6 million of the town's landings came from shellfish, £3.52 million of which was lobster.
Today, Bridlington is Britain's largest shell fishing port with a multi-million pound export market, supplying crabs and lobsters locally as well as to restaurants and hotels in France, Spain and Italy.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver even made reference to "Picked Bridlington crab" after putting it on the menu at a number of his upmarket Italian eateries.
Now plans are under way for a lobster hatchery for the west side of the harbour which, if approved, could be up and running by next year.
Mr Traves said: "This is a real positive for the industry as it demonstrates working together to enhance lobster stocks.
"Rather than stick our heads in the sand, a number of people are working together to make sure Bridlington remains viable.
"It is fantastic for me to see all the fleet we have here now and the enthusiasm and commitment is amazing."
The harbour provides direct employment for about 350 people, ranging from skippers and processors to restaurant owners and exporters, not forgetting the people who make and service equipment, such as boats and lobster pots.
And, as all shellfish is caught locally – by local fishermen using equipment made and repaired in Bridlington, before being packaged and exported by East Yorkshire firms, the industry provides a massive boost to the town's economy.
Margaret Hyland, chief executive of the commission, said: "We have a very good export trade, with our shellfish going all over the world.
"For example, we export a lot of whelks to Korea, while the lobster trade has been holding up extremely well this year.
"The industry really is going from strength to strength."
Mr Traves, who began fishing out of Bridlington in 1961, said: "I have seen so many changes in my time at Bridlington, but now the harbour is really holding its own.
"Bridlington is quite unique as the landing companies are owned by local fishermen, most of the boats are skipper-owned and this means all of the money stays local rather than leaving the area.
"All of the fish sold here is also fresh, not frozen and when you look at the maintenance of the fleet, this is also done locally, with shore-based engineers while the fishing gear needed is made here.
"We also have two brothers, Garry and John, who have the processing company Venture Seafoods. Their success has seen them move into purpose built premises in Carnaby.
"The hatchery will add another string to Bridlington's bow.
"It won't take long to construct, the funding is there and everyone wants to see it happen as soon as possible."
Up until last month, the west end of the harbour had been earmarked for redevelopment by East Riding Council, which had proposed including it in the Burlington Parade development plan.
The plans would have seen buildings and facilities currently used by fishermen being cleared to make way for a hotel, apartments and upmarket cafés.
This area is now earmarked for the hatchery, which will cost about £140,000.
The cash has been sourced by the Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group – a group set up to access European Fisheries Funding to help sustain the local fishing industry and fishing communities.
Data shows East Yorkshire's lobster stocks are not currently a concern, however, the facility will help bolster future levels and ensure the industry can continue growing.
While the proposed hatchery will bring big benefits to those involved in shellfishing, the impact it will have on tourism is also expected to be a massive boost.
A feasibility study into a hatchery on the East Coast was first published in 2008.
The reportestimated a hatchery could attract up to 44,863 visitors annually, attracting more than £130,102 in entry fees.