Whitby crabbers hit out after scalloper tows their gear away

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Three Whitby potters lost valuable fishing gear after several fleets of static gear, clearly marked in a traditional crabbing area, were towed away by a visiting scalloper.

Skippers Adrian Noble (Olivia Rose) and James Cole (Sardia Louise) reported losing several leaders of gear, amounting to more than 250 36 in parlour pots, on the same morning.

One of Olivia Rose’s leaders was eventually located, having been towed 2.9miles.

Both boats’ gear was shot between 7.8 and 8.5 miles on hard ground off Whitby, in a well-established potting box.

For many years, Whitby skippers have followed the unwritten law of not fishing static gear on the softer ground favoured by scallop dredgers from six miles out to the edge of the hard ground two miles further off.

A third Whitby boat, skipper Jason Dobson’s Ocean Spray, which was fishing 0.25 miles further off, on this occasion, escaped relatively lightly.

All three skippers and their crews spent two days grazing for their gear, some of which was evenutally found to have balled up in a large clump.

The excessive weight associated with trying to recover the tangle of gear led to the failure of hydraulic pipes on Ocean Spray.

Skipper Adrian Noble said the actions of one “rogue” skipper had undermined the co-operation that exists with virtually every other scallop skipper.

“Towing through the middle of pot leaders and dismantling our gear can only be described as vandalism.

“Rather than risk losing any more gear, I’m left with no option but to bring it all ashore,” he said.

James Cole added: “There is no excuse for what amounts to a total disregard of another fisherman’s livelihood.

“It takes almost a full day’s work ashore to rig a new parlour so as things stand at present that means 60 days of work just to get back to where we were until one scalloper wiped our gear out.

“We are currently losing £4,000 of potting gear a year.

“If this level of losses is allowed to continue for another 20 years, they will amount to £80,000.”

Having heard of the losses, skipper of scallop Rejoice immediately asked his crab colleagues to move any gear still left in the area where the gear was missing, to help them locate missing pots.