Fishermen blockade Lossiemouth

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The Independent Online
NEARLY 50 fishing boats packed the Moray Firth port of Lossiemouth yesterday in a mass protest against government fishing cuts. The boats, many of which had arrived through the night, were decorated with flags and slogans, several carrying banners proclaiming 'annus horribilis - we too'.

'We have had enough,' Dennis Slater, co-organiser of the fishermen, said. He was standing beneath an effigy of John Gummer, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who had been ceremonially hanged from a flagpole during the show of strength. 'We are trying to show the Government we mean business. Our protests are only just beginning . . .'

The fishermen claim the Sea Fish Conservation Bill could force them to stay in port for up to half the year. They fear that despite gaining nearly double the haddock quota from Brussels, the legislation will put some boats out of business.

Lossiemouth was once the main seine net fishing port in Britain with a fleet of 80 boats, but now fewer than half a dozen berth there regularly. The vast majority of local skippers base their boats at Peterhead and Aberdeen, or on the west coast. Yesterday's call to come home was the first time many skippers had berthed in their own port for up to 25 years. Cyril Scott, 59, who recently retired through ill health, said: 'Fishermen know there must be conservation but not the way the Government wants. It is trying to put us out of business.'