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Giant factory ships ‘emptying the fishing grounds’ off Milford Haven

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FOUR huge fishing vessels, each over 120m long, are working off the coast of Milford Haven at the present time, the Herald has learned.

Local fishermen say they have been tracking the vessels, which can stay at sea for many weeks, for the last few days.

One local trawlerman, who did not want to be named said that he felt that UK waters were being deliberately targeted before Britain leaves the EU.

The ‘Willem van der Zwan’ at 142m is one of the largest fishing vessels of the Dutch fleet is working alongside three other EU registered factory ships including the ‘Afrika’ and the ‘Carolien’.

At many times larger than the usual trawlers working in the Irish Sea, the four large vessels are amongst 19 fishing boats in the area. One of them is British registered, the rest from other European nations.

A spokesman for the Blue Planet Society said: “The capacity of these trawlers is equivalent to dozens of small-scale fishing vessels, and sustainable small-scale fisheries cannot compete with industrial supertrawlers.
“Supertrawlers are effectively floating factories and able to stay at sea for considerable periods of time. ‘Willem van der Zwan’ can process 250 tonnes of fish per day whilst at sea.
“Local, smaller fishing boats have to return to port to offload the fish prior to processing.”

Fishing in the Irish Sea is governed by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), a set of rules laid down by the European Commission.
A Commission official said last month responding to a similar incident in the English Channel: “The Commission is aware of concerns among NGOs concerning the activity of large trawlers (in UK waters).
“All vessels operating in EU waters, large and small, have to abide by the rules and this is controlled by the Member States’ inspection and control services.
“It is a priority that all Union vessels comply with the legislation in force.
“Therefore, if there is a suspicion that vessels infringe rules then the Commission would like to be informed and receive concrete facts.
“Moreover, fisheries inspection authorities in the Member States also need to be informed about this.”

The management of a large Dutch fishing vessel told The Herald: “We have our own factory with us. So, the large size of the vessel is not related to the catching power of the vessel but to the on-board processing and storage facilities. The fish remains its freshness and the efficient processing procedure results in an affordable consumer product.”

The Willem van der Zwan website says: “Our goal is simple: we should fish in such a way that fish stocks and their natural habitats remain healthy and productive. This is the only way in which we can continue to meet the demand of present and future generations. ‘We want to preserve the capital and to catch the interest.’

“To fulfil this mission, we will continue to contribute to scientific research. Scientific research is essential for setting quotas, implementing and maintaining a sound management system for various fish stocks and for further innovations in selective catch methods.

“A logical consequence of this sustainability policy is the certification of fisheries according to the MSC principles. Moreover, our fish is characterized by a high Omega-3 content, a relatively very low CO-2 footprint and a low price.”
A source in the fishing community told this newspaper that Willem van der Zwan is currently at Pembroke Dock. “I’ve been told that her fishing gear was caught around the prop” we were told.

SCH302 Factory ship [File picture]

Fishing company Parlevliet van der Plas includes the Margiris on a list of pelagic trawlers on its website.
The website says: “Pelagic fish shoals are located with the help of echo-sounding equipment. From the echogram it is possible to estimate the depth and the size of the shoal.
“The net is towed behind the ship just below the water surface or further down the water column, but does not reach the seabed.
“Pelagic fishing gear is constantly undergoing further improvements to ensure a responsible fishery through better selectivity.
“Special measures and aids – such as large mesh sizes in the front part of the net – are being developed to prevent the catch of un-wanted species or undersized juvenile fish.”

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Residents invited to a Pembroke Tunnel drop-in event

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NETWORK RAIL is inviting residents to a drop-in event to find out more about essential maintenance work at Pembroke Tunnel, west Wales, which will improve the resilience and reliability of the railway for passengers.
The work includes essential vegetation management and rock netting in the area with work taking place for a week in December before the main work takes place in January and February.
Ahead of the work residents are invited to a drop-in event on Monday 18 November from 3pm to 6.30pm at the Dutton Suite, Pembroke Leisure Centre, Bush, Pembroke, SA71 4RJ.
No appointments are necessary and members of the project team will be on hand to answer any questions.
Then between Saturday 14 and Friday 20 December Network Rail will carry out drilling work overnight to install rock anchors at the top of the railway cutting as Network Rail prepare for the main phase of the works.
That will then take place between Sunday 19 January 2020 and Saturday 8 February 2020 where engineers will work day and night to install rock anchors and bolts before installing the rock netting across the railway cutting using road rail vehicles and specialist machinery.
Michael Pinkerton, scheme project manager for Wales and Borders, said:
“We would like to thank residents in advance for their patience and understanding as we carry out this work at Pembroke Tunnel.
“All this planned essential work forms part of our commitment to maintain a safe and reliable railway that is fit for use now and in the future. We are working closely with our partners to keep disruption to the local community to a minimum and encourage anyone wishing to find out more about this work to come along to our drop-in event later.”

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“We have a duty to win” says Crabb at campaign launch

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STEPHEN CRABB has launched his 2019 General Election campaign, highlighting the ‘duty and responsibility’ the Party has to win.
The Welsh Conservative candidate is hoping to be re-elected on December 12, having served as MP for the last 14 years.
At the launch at Martha’s Vineyard on Milford Marina, Stephen addressed a crowd of supporters with a promise to continue being a strong voice for Preseli Pembrokeshire in Westminster.
Stephen Crabb has consistently been one of the hardest working Welsh MPs with a strong track record of standing up for the local community.
Speaking at the campaign launch, Stephen said: “This General Election will be the most important for many years.
“We face a choice between the Conservatives who have a clear plan to unblock Brexit and improve Britain – or a coalition of opposition parties under Jeremy Corbyn, who want more years of delay and division.
“That is not in our national interest nor is it in the best interests of Pembrokeshire. The Conservative Party has a serious duty and responsibility to go out and win this election.
“Over the last 14 years I have fought tirelessly for local people and local businesses and if re-elected, I will continue to work hard to give Pembrokeshire a strong voice in Parliament.”
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Christmas shopping misery for west Wales rail users

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RAIL USERS in west Wales face festive misery due to engineering works which will close the Carmarthen to Milford Haven link for almost a month.

The line will be closed from this Sunday, until the Sunday before Christmas, at a time when many take the train to Swansea and Cardiff shopping for gifts for friends and family.

Signs have already been posted at railway stations confirming the delays.

Trains will be replaced by buses; rail officials have said.

A spokesman from Network Rail said: “Due to essential maintenance work, rail replacement bus services will run between Carmarthen and Milford Haven from Monday, November 18 until Sunday, December 22.

“Pembroke dock and Fishguard services are also affected on Sunday November 24.

“On all other days of operation, the train services will continue to stop at Whitland, Clynderwen and Clarbeston Road, Fishguard and Goodwick, Fishguard Harbour and stations to Pembroke Dock.

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

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