THE Whitby Gazette’s Fight For Our Fleet campaign has helped score another victory for the town’s skippers.
Whitby harbour is to benefit from £10,000 worth of lifting equipment after the Marine Management Organisation agreed an application for a grant from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).
The money will be used to install a new heavy duty landing davit in the lower harbour, something the port has been without since mid 2010 when the existing crane was removed from use after almost 40 years’ service.
It is expected the work will help the town’s fleet to reduce operating costs by saving them the need to hire lifting equipment such as cranes and forklift trucks. It is also hoped the enhanced facilities will encourage more vessels into using the harbour, which is expected to boost the harbour authority’s income and money available for further improvements.
The good news has come about after the Whitby Gazette reported the fishermen’s disgust over the condition of the harbour which they claimed was not fit for purpose including the loss of the crane which was meant for their use.
A meeting last November we organised with Euro MPs, the skippers and industry representatives including those who consider funding applications, was also hailed a success.
Skipper of the Abbie-Lee John Hall said: “It’s great news and we have fought for it for a long while. I think the Gazette publicity has helped and pushed things forward for us. The crane will make things much easier.”
And Whitby Gazette acting editor Jon Stokoe said: “It’s tremendous. Let’s hope this is the start of a change in fortunes for the town’s fishermen and their families.”
The work is likely to be completed in May 2011 and will cost £10,700, with EFF and Scarborough Borough Council each providing £5,350 towards the project.
The application for funding was made by Captain Martin Willis, the Whitby Harbour Master, and approved by the Marine Management Organisation, which administers the EFF scheme in England.
Captain Willis added: “We wouldn’t be able to carry out this vital work without the grant from the EFF.
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“The new facility will be an asset for the town’s fishing fleet, particularly the larger trawlers. It will be much safer and more cost effective than procedures which were put in place due to the old, broken equipment.
“For example, there’s only a two-hour window each side of high tide to make the journey into the upper harbour, which vessels have to do currently, and this is far from ideal if a quick turnaround back to sea is required.
“The equipment will be located in a convenient position to be arranged with the fishermen for ease of use and accessibility. We hope the new addition will also benefit other vessels using the harbour enhancing the port’s reputation as a quality location to operate from.”
He added the council hopes to pursue funding for another crane and is looking into making repairs to a 40 metre stretch of damaged pilings near the ice house and fuel berths on the Fish Quay.
Liz Humphreys, director of operations at the Marine Management Organisation, said it is committed to securing a sustainable future for the fishing industry, and funding projects using the European Fisheries Fund is one way in which it is helping to do so.
She said: “I’d like to thank the Whitby Gazette for inviting us to attend their meeting in November which helped to raise awareness of the funding available through the EFF scheme.”