Weather hurting trawler operators

TWEED trawler operator Leon Tillott is among a host of fishermen counting the cost after last week's wild weather brought the local industry to a standstill. Big swells and dangerous conditions along the coastline kept local commercial fishermen on dry land for more than two weeks, during what is usually their most lucrative time of year. Mr Tillott said there was huge public demand for fresh prawns and seafood during the Christmas/ New Year period. Instead, fishermen have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after having no catch to on-sell to the public. "For those of us that sell direct to the public, it's our biggest time of year," said Mr Tillott. "That's how we market ourselves. If we can't get out there to catch fresh seafood then we don't have the product to sell, simple as that." He said many local fishermen were hurting financially as a result of poor Christmas trading. "As far as I'm concerned, it's the worst Christmas I've had," said Mr Tillott, who has been fishing off the Tweed Coast for some 25 years. "Financially it's been tough. There's a lot that are hurting." This week trawlers were slowly returning to work, although conditions remain unpredictable. A low-pressure system currently forming off the coast could potentially force fishermen back on dry land by the weekend. However, there are long-term%benefits to last week's severe weather. Mr Tillott said flooding traditionally had a rejuvenating effect on%waterways, helping promote a%larger food supply for marine life. "It's a short-term loss, hopefully for a longer-term gain," he said.



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