Port down to its last fishing boat

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The Independent Online

One of the UK's most famous fishing ports is down to its last boat.

Brothers Richard and Jason Clarke - who operate the 32ft Eventide - are the only full-time fishermen left in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

A century ago 1,000 fishing vessels sailed from Yarmouth the town's fishing industry was in its heyday.

And Yarmouth features in Ewan MacColl's "Shoals of Herring" - probably the best-known folk song about fishermen.

But the Clarke brothers say the imposition of "ridiculous" quotas, limits on the size of catch - introduced to preserve fish stocks, has destroyed Yarmouth's fishing industry over the past decade.

"It used to be the most famous fishing port in the world - in the 20s and 30s," said Richard, 36.

"They used to say you could walk from one side of the harbour to the other across the boats. It's not that long ago really. Old boys here still remember it.

"Now sometimes when we're sailing out of the harbour and we're the only full-time boat left, you think 'blimey!' In the last five years more and more people have given up. A lot have gone away from Yarmouth to do other things."

Richard and Jason, 37, are fourth-generation fishermen and say they will continue to battle against the tide.

But Richard doubts that there will be a fifth generation of Clarke fishermen.

"We're got no plans to stop. The fishing's good at the moment and we're making a living," he added.

"But I don't think there'll be a fifth generation. I've got two sons - aged eight and six - but I think I'd urge them to do a different job.

"The pressure with quotas and everything else is getting too much. The quotas are just ridiculous. If the quotas were sensible I'd like to think there was a future in fishing in Yarmouth. But as it is, no."

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