Crab factory closure will have ‘minimal’ impact on coastal industry, say Cromer fishermen

The time-honoured tradition of fishing off Cromer's coast will remain the same in the wake of the closure of the town's iconic crab factory, according to those who work in the coastal industry.

Fishermen in the town have said the decision to shut the Holt Road plant will have a 'minimal' impact on their cottage industry but described the closure as a 'sad day'.

After eight months of uncertainty Young's Seafood, who own the well-established factory, announced last week that the site would be closed by the summer with the loss of 109 jobs.

Cromer fisherman John Davies thought the closure was a 'great shame' for the town but the knock on effect would be nominal.

'The majority of crab landed at Cromer are processed locally. I wholesale out to pubs, hotels and restaurants, it's not going to make a huge difference to the local fishing industry,' he said.

His views were echoed by fellow Cromer fisherman John Lee who did not think there would be any impact and was confident other local producers could 'pick up the slack' left by the factory when it shuts in August.

But there are fears the closure will hit fishermen on other parts of the coast who supply the factory.

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Ivan Large, chairman of fishing associations representing Wells and north Norfolk, said: 'It will be devastating for fishermen along the coast. There are a lot of fishermen who rely on the Cromer crab factory for their living.'

Young's has pledged to keep the well-recognised Cromer crab brand in the town and said it will be holding talks with home grown producers and continue to buy from local fishermen.

Mr Davies did admit Cromer fishermen could feel the pinch without the factory in quieter seasons, when local demand is not as high, but thought it was a case of wait and see to show what Young's talks with producers yielded.

Remaining staff are being offered the chance of staying with the company as more than 350 jobs are being created at Grimsby and Young's have said any workers wishing to move will be given priority when applying and offered financial support.

Pete Ward, Young's chief operating officer, said: 'We recognise it's a challenge for people to move location... and we will help them financially with out of pocket expenses. And if they subsequently decide to take the roles we will support them in terms of funds towards their relocation.

'If at the end of a four week period they say it isn't for me then they can revert to taking the full redundancy package.'

Mr Ward said he had spoken to the majority of staff and there had been interest from some in relocating, but there would also be help for those wanting to stay with offers of further training, time off and early release.

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