THE recent severe storms that have slammed into Lyme Regis have claimed another casualty - the fishing industry.

Storm after storm has battered the Dorset coast since December, meaning the majority of fishermen could not take to the seas to earn their living.

They are now starting to count the cost following the deluge as calmer weather allows them to assess the damage caused to their boats and finally get back to work.

Lyme Regis-based Chris Wason, vice-chairman of the South West Inshore Fishermen's Association said: “This weather has had an horrendous impact on every fisherman.

“I have a fairly big boat and normally I am out for six days a week but with this weather I have been averaging four days a fortnight. It has impacted the fisherman in smaller boats much more. It's been an absolute nightmare for them.

“When we do get on the water, it's not very good fishing because the water is so dirty, you don't catch as much as you do when it is clear water.

“It will take weeks for people who use static gear to set it up again, I think they have lost at least a few thousand pounds worth of gear, easily.

“I have never seen anything like it.”

Alex Jones, who also uses Lyme Regis harbour to moor his boat, said: “Personally, I have hardly been able to get out at all.

“I have only been out three times since Christmas. The consistency of the weather has been the problem. I need two days in a row to sort my gear out and we just haven't been able to get them.

“I have suffered a real loss in income. I employ a crew and I haven't been able to pay them. I feel very frustrated.”

It is not just the fishermen who have been impacted by the bad weather, the businesses along the coast that sell the fish on to the public have also suffered.

Simon Bennett, from the Wet Fish Shop, said there had been a decline in the amount of fish, but he was finally starting to see an improvement.

Mr Bennett said: “It wasn't an easy period at all but with the storms that we had what else are you going to get in rough seas like that. It was for quite a sustained period as well, and prices did increase.

“But now, we are starting to see an improvement. Big boats are going out on smaller trips and the day boats are now starting to get out, so it's not all doom and gloom.”