FISHERIES minister and Camborne Redruth MP George Eustice visited Newlyn on Friday to meet the county's storm-ravaged fishermen.
Before meeting a group in the Seamen's Mission, including representatives from Porthleven, Cadgwith, Newquay and Padstow as well as from Newlyn, Mr Eustice and Derek Thomas, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the West Cornwall constituency, were taken on to the quay by Robert Broderick, a shell fisherman who fishes out of Newlyn.
He said the storms had resulted in not only a lack of opportunities to go fishing but also a loss of fishing gear.
"I've only managed to get out to sea on six days since the start of December – normally I would expect to be out 15 days a month at his time of year so we've basically had no wages for three months," he said.
"Not only that but we've also seen about 500 of our 1,200 crabpots destroyed or damaged because of the storms."
Mr Broderick pressed his case to Mr Eustice for help from the Government but said the minister had not committed himself to anything.
"He took everything on board and listened but made no promises," he added.
"We are seeking a hardship payment, a gear replacement payment or a low interest loan."
Mr Eustice said he appreciated that it had been a very difficult time for Cornish fishermen. "I wanted to come here to Newlyn to see the problems for myself," he said.
"In many cases, fishermen have only been able to get to sea for seven or eight days over the past three months – we have had an exceptional winter with storm after storm.
"Crab and lobster fishermen have lost almost half their pots due to storm damage and so we are looking at a crisis fund and the details of how the Government could help.
"In addition we have already asked the MMO to show the maximum flexibility over quotas, particularly for the Under 10 metre fleet and the Department for Transport is looking at funds to repair the damage done to harbours while some of the larger vessels will be able to defer their lighthouse dues. I will be taking what I have learnt here today back with me to Westminster. We are looking at the damage done to our fishing industry and how we can help. I hope to have something positive to announce in the near future."
Mr Thomas added: "I asked George to meet these fishermen when I became aware of the crisis that shell fishermen in Newlyn are facing. It is important that fishermen can impress upon government ministers in person the importance of our fishing industry and how recent storms have created unprecedented difficulties for it."