severe storms that battered the south coast have claimed another casualty – the West Dorset fishing industry.

Storm after storm has hit the 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 with the calmer weather allowing them to assess the damage caused to their boats and finally get back to work.

Chris Wason, vice-chairman of the South West Inshore Fishermen’s Association and based in Lyme Regis, 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 fishermen in smaller boats much greater than me, 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.”

Dave Sales, a fisherman from West Bay, has been a fisherman for 50 years.

He said: “The last time I went out was on December 15 and that’s the same for a lot of people here.

“Some of them have been able to get in odd days here and there but nothing major.

“The main problem is that a lot of the gear has been damaged and there hasn’t been chance to go and repair the kit or the boats.

“We can’t believe it, some of the gear has been moved two miles.

“This is undoubtedly the worst weather I have ever seen, I have never experienced anything like this.”

Clive Samways, managing director of Samways Fish Merchants said: “There was a steep decline in numbers of fish from early December until this week, and now it’s starting to pick up again slowly.

“The weather has meant almost every fisherman from every port has had to stop going out.

“Prices for the fish have gone through the roof because our supply has fallen but the demand has gone up.

“That’s not just happening here though, it’s happening on the whole of the south coast and in France and Belgium.”