FENLANDER: Sharp rise in number of fishing boats using Wisbech Port

COMMERCIAL fishing companies are increasingly looking to the Port of Wisbech to refit their vessels because of the excellent facilities there.

The number of fishing boats using the port has risen sharply over the past year, giving a big boost to the income generated by the Crab Marsh boatyard, which is owned and run by Fenland District Council.

So far this year 11 boats have used the yard – up from just two last year. One company is now looking to book seven of its fleet in.

A key factor in the boatyard’s success is its modern hoist that can handle large commercial fishing boats. It also has a 100-tonne slipway, re-opened last year, that is capable of taking boats up to 24 metres long.

Jamie Hemming, the assistant harbour master, said: “Because our hoist can take vessels weighing up to 75 tonnes and nearly 30 metres long, we are being used more and more by companies from the whole Wash area.

“Previously they had to send their boats to Grimsby or Lowestoft for repairs or refits. Now they are coming here because we have all the facilities they need and we offer very reasonable prices.

“One of the boats to use the hoist recently was the Seagull, a 17-metre beamer that needed repainting. We have also handled 10 of the 14-metre cockle dredging fleet, which have been blasted and repainted. The boats are owned by two companies from King’s Lynn - Lynn Shellfish and John Lake Shellfish – and Osbourne Shellfish from Leigh on Sea.

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“Now we are beginning to get more interest from Boston as well as Grimsby – and this week we even had an inquiry from Manchester.”

Meanwhile, much of the port’s work continues to be with leisure craft, with 86 of the 128 berths in the yacht harbour currently booked.

Last month 10 narrowboats spent a week in the harbour on their way to crossing the Wash. Several said they may take advantage of the hoist on their return journey.

Councillor Mac Cotterell, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for the port and marine services, said: “All this is very good for the local economy. The improvements we have made in the port over the past few years, including the boat hoist and slipway, are encouraging more businesses to use it. The money that visitors to the yacht harbour spend also gives traders in the town a boost.”

• For more information about the facilities available at the Port and Yacht Harbour, call Wisbech Harbour Office on 01945 588059.

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