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Portland fisherman 'fled for his life' after sea attack
12:30pm Saturday 2nd March 2013 in Latest
A PORTLAND fisherman said he ‘fled for his life’ after being rammed and pelted with rocks by a Devon-based scallop dredger just off Chesil beach.
Terry Studley, 50, claims he and his crew were ‘chased off of his own ground’ by a rival crew – who were wielding knives in a cut-throat style threatening gesture. Following the attack at Stennis Ledges, Dorset Police have launched a probe but have yet to make any arrests.
Mr Studley has been a fisherman in Dorset for 26 years and catches both crabs and scallops using pots. He blames the changes in the industry for causing the influx of out-of-area fishing crews using underhand tactics to catch scallops with trawlers in Lyme Bay.
He said: “I can honestly say that I feared for my life and my livelihood after this scary attack.
“I feel like I’m fighting a David and Goliath battle because I’m out there fishing trying to provide for my family and I’ve ended up battling with these far bigger crews for land I’ve been nurturing for years.”
The situation started on Wednesday, February 22 when Mr Studley noticed a scallop dredger three quarters of a mile from land on Stennis Ledges allegedly fishing over his crab pots and damaging his property.
Due to the weather being too severe to get his boat from Weymouth harbour, Mr Studley watched in dismay from the shore, fearing his livelihood and the ground he’d nurtured for years was being ruined.
During this time he sought help from fellow fisherman, the coastguard and the governing body Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) but no-one could advice him of a solution.
After numerous attempts of calling the boat crew directly the disgruntled fisherman decided to go and investigate.
He said: “My blood was boiling.
“I have looked after that ground and nurtured it and I feared my gear would be destroyed.
“Looking back now I realise we risked our lives to go round and tell them to move.
“As we approached I told him to stop towing my gear away and the crew were on the gunnels doing cut-throat movements and we started getting pelted with rocks.
“They were swearing at us and shouting so fearing my safety I set off safety flares.
“I tried to get away but the vessel started chasing me – this is when I was really worried that if he sunk me that would be it.”
During the incident Mr Studley was on the radio to the coastguard so the altercation was recorded.
Following the attack, Mr Studley is calling on the marine agencies to protect small local fisherman like him.
He added: “Ninety per cent of scallopers are professional – we have a gentleman’s agreement regarding where we fish.
“It’s the 10 per cent that are ruining the industry.”