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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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Milford Haven: Man charged over two burglaries and criminal damage

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE have released an update in relation to the spate of burglaries in Milford Haven

34-year-old Thomas John Picton has been charged with two burglaries and criminal damage in the town.

He is, say police, suspected of being involved in a burglary carried out at Cohen’s pharmacy of November 26, another at Heaven Scent shop and criminal damage to a door at The Precinct on the same date.

He will appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts this morning (Dec 3).

An arrest has also been made in relation to a more recent burglary at the Royal British Legion on December 11. He was also arrested on suspicion of possession of class A.B and C drugs. He has been released under investigation.

One suspect is outstanding.

Some 11 arrests have now been made in connection with a spate of burglaries that has targeted businesses and homes in the town.

Dyfed-Powys Police has vowed to continue to crack down on suspects and prevent further burglaries in the lead up to Christmas.

Sergeant Terri Harrison from Milford Haven’s Neighbourhood Policing team said: “Hopefully this arrest provides some reassurance to the public following recent burglaries in the town. One burglary is one too many, and we will ensure that it will remain a priority for us, ensuring that we bring as much patrol cover and preventative effort as we possibly can.

“We are also aware of the impact that burglaries can have on individual householders and businesses alike. Don’t make it easy for them, stay alert to your surroundings and report anything suspicious to police immediately no matter how insignificant it may seem. The report of a suspicious vehicle or people acting strangely in your neighbourhood can help us to prevent and detect crime. We need to work together to tackle this.”

Chief Inspector Harries added: “There has been a significant amount of work carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department, response officers and neighbourhood policing teams from across the county to tackle this rise in burglary offences. We are committed to maintaining patrols in the area and seek support from the community to report any concerns.”

If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.

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Carmarthen West & South Pembs still blue as Hart increases majority

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SIMON HART has retained his Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire seat with an increased majority.

Polling over 22,000 votes, he comfortably saw off the challenge of Labour’s Marc Tierney, who recorded just shy of 14,500 votes.

Plaid’s Dr Rhys Thomas polled over 3,000 votes in third. Alistair Cameron of the Liberal Democrats finished fourth.

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Stephen Crabb demolishes Labour with his biggest ever majority

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POLLING the largest ever number of votes for the Conservatives in Preseli Pembrokeshire, Stephen Crabb increased his majority in yesterday’s General Election.

Mr Crabb polled 21,381 votes against his nearest rival’s (Labour’s Philippa Thompson) 16,319.

Plaid Cymru finished third with 2,776 votes and the Liberal Democrats trailed home in fourth with 1,943 votes.

After Returning Officer Ian Westley announced the outcome, Mr Crabb gave a notably short victory speech in which he concentrated on thanking his opponents for a good campaign fought hard but with little personal rancour.

Philippa Thompson called on Mr Crabb to work for the benefit of all his constituents in response.

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