Chat with a Fisherman - Pot Markers


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4 Oct 2009
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There was a crab fisherman keeping his pots in a yard I was visiting, so I thought I'd take the chance to have a chat.

I introduced myself, explained that I sail, and asked for his advice about avoiding pots. After a little discussion he explained that his pots were marked with very large brightly coloured marker buoys (£15 each), so I read between the lines and volunteered "so if I hit one I wasn't keeping a proper lookout and I only have myself to blame"...

So then I asked, "but I've noticed that a lot of pots aren't well marked", and we had a good discussion about it. The outcome was that some less scrupulous fisherman don't mark pots as well, and that although he disagrees with them, he had some sympathy. He felt the reasons were:

  • Unscrupulous, I inferred often recreational , fisherman stealing the contents of pots.
  • Harbour tugs etc deliberately mowing them down. He claimed to have seen this happen and it results in lost gear - the markers - for which the costs add up!
The latter point led to a conversation about placement. I mentioned I'd seen pots deployed in the fairway or the middle of approach channels for harbours, he said so had he, and paraphrasing, that there are idiots in every profession.

I asked his advice on whether there was anything I could do to avoid badly marked pots, his take was you can't, fit a rope cutter. As a fisherman he has more problems running over pot lines than anyone and has found this solves it. I asked if he minded the loss of gear that resulted and he said they could normally fish the pot back out.

I also asked about line. He told me that all his pots, the first few meters of line are weighted to make it sink, but he knows not all do that and that of course the tidal range can make it quite difficult to get the length of line right, in fact there could be a danger of the pot ending up being towed just under to prop depth by the tide and current.

At the end I shook his hand, thanked him for his advice, and we agreed that the key to our hobby and his profession getting on is just good communication. Which seems reasonable!

So my take on it... if you get a chance to have a chat with a fisherman operating in your sailing area, definitely do. Buy him/her a pint. It will probably be mutually beneficial.
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