Fishermen say they are being priced out of a port used by their ancestors for centuries to make way for energy firms running large off-shore wind farms.
New boats wanting to use the dock face charges of nearly £9,500 a year, an incredible 450 per cent higher than the £2,000 a year paid by the 14 vessels that already have licences.
Boat owners put the blame on the Association of British Ports for giving priority at Lowestoft in Suffolk to the wind farm industry.
Fisherman Lee Woollerton said: “Another 20 vessels want to come to the port but cannot due to the charges. They have to use cheaper moorings at Southwold, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, and then transport their catch by road.
“The dock used to hold up to 60 inshore fishing vessels but the remaining ones have been crammed into a corner to make way for larger vessels working on the wind farms.”
Mr Woollerton, 48, who left fishing to work in oil, gas, and renewables, wants to return to fishing but the mooring costs have forced him to put plans on hold.
In a similar position is Ben Stebbings, 35, who manages a firm taking workers to off-shore wind farms, but also wants to return to fishing. He said: “With fishing stocks in the North Sea being replenished and the future looking better, Lowestoft needs the sons of fishermen to return to the industry but they are being stopped by the pricing barrier.
“I’ve bought a boat and want to employ local people to fish from my home port, but can’t because of the charges.”
Paul Lines, 57, who owns the wind farm servicing company managed by Mr Stebbings, prefers to work on a shellfish boat with his son Charlie, 21. He said: “I cannot get into Lowestoft, as the port owners have made the cost of docking there prohibitive. I dock at Great Yarmouth and transport my catch by road to the market at Lowestoft.”
Scarlett Mummery, 23, whose parents work at the local Hamilton fish market, has joined a campaign to keep it in operation, even though she is an engineer for the new Gallopers wind farm.
An ABP spokesman said the firm was working “to secure the future of fishing in Lowestoft, whilst ensuring the town benefits from its involvement in the offshore power generation industry”.
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