Storm-hit fishing fleets 'facing financial crisis'

Fishing boats in Brixham harbour
Image caption Many fisherman have been unable to get out to sea for several weeks

Relentless storms have left many fishermen facing desperate financial crisis, with some unable to work since Christmas, a charity has said.

Weeks of ferocious weather have forced many boats from the sea, particularly the inshore fleets in the South West.

The Fishermen's Mission, which provides emergency grants, said it was giving out "thousands of pounds every day".

The charity said the crisis was unprecedented and it has launched a new appeal to provide financial help.

Alison Godfrey, from the charity, said: "There is absolutely no comparison to this year. What we are doing is giving away thousands of pounds every day, especially in Cornwall.

"We are very moved by the desperation of some people. We are talking desperate times."

Maritime charity Seafarers UK has donated £50,000 towards the appeal but the mission said it would "very soon have to be dipping into our reserves".

In the South West fishermen have been particularly badly hit, with many unable to get out to sea for several weeks.

In Porthleven several boats sank after the harbour barriers were smashed by the storms.

Newlyn fisherman Robert Broderick said replacing lost or damaged crab pots would cost him more than £25,000, while the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation warned soaring prices caused by dwindling fish market stocks could tempt skippers to take risks.

In Devon, some Brixham boats have only been to sea for five days so far this year.

Adam Beckett, a local fisherman, said: "This is the worst winter for continuous weather I can remember.

"It's been tough. You can get a few days you miss, but now we're running on to seven weeks of no fishing."

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