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New mussel beds a "life saver" for Norfolk fisheries

PUBLISHED: 17:47 28 March 2011

The discovery of 7,000 tonnes of seed mussels off the Norfolk coast has helped to safeguard fishermen's jobs at a shellfish company.

It had been a tough start to the year for fishermen at west Norfolk-based Lynn Shellfish, and some crews had been struggling to make ends meet since October.

But the future is starting to look bright after the company was contacted about a new seed mussel bed in deep water off Cromer.

Steve Williamson, a director of the company, said: “We were told about it in February by a fish trawler which happened to come across these mussels, and we were given the go-ahead to start fishing there at the start of this month.

“We were only given a licence to fish there for March, and so far it has been a massive haul for us. This means it will be the first time the boys will have had any money in their pocket since October and ensure they have a reliable income.

“We have brought up several hundred tonnes of mussels so far, and I am hoping we are going to hit £200,000. This find has been a real life-saver and has only come about thanks to the help of a lot of people like the Cromer fisherman, who have been fantastic.

“I am now working hard to see if we can get an extension on the licence, and I am hopeful we will, but it depends on what impact we are having on the other fishermen.”

Ivan Large, chairman of North Norfolk Fishing Society and Wells and District Inshore Fishermen’s Association, said: “We always try to help each other out when we can, and so far it has been going really well. I am very happy for them to carry on fishing for seed mussels there as long as they stay inside the area we agreed and don’t impede the crabbers.”

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