New man at the helm says fish dock is running at ‘near capacity’ following stormy winter

Appledore Fish Dock is understood to be running at 'near capacity' - just five months after the co-operative that ran the facility was wound up.

In December, Torridge District Council served notice on Bideford Trawlermen's Co-operative for an alleged £74,000 in rent arrears.

The council took back control of the facility at the beginning of the year and a new manager was appointed in March.

Paul Labistour, a former Brixham harbour master and maritime consultant, has been hired to oversee a number of improvement projects designed to put the operation back on a more sustainable footing.

He said: "There is still significant fish processing going on with catches being landed through vessels from Padstow, Illfracombe and other partner ports.

"Occupancy rates at the fish dock are near capacity with eight tenants at the moment.

"Quota restrictions have limited throughput lately but some of these have now been partially lifted.

"Recent meetings with tenants have generated a lot of positive new ideas and the council is looking into the feasibility of implementing some of these."

The council said it would soon be offering three-year operating licences to give tenants greater security.

It will also be looking to address some of the maintenance and equipment issues at the £3.6million facility, which opened in 2008 mainly paid for by European and Government grants.

Repairs to the ice making facilities are seen as a priority and funding will be sought to look at other improvements, including waste management; site security; diesel storage; and the landing crane.

Councillor Philip Hackett, the council's lead member for property, said: "The council is keen to maintain its investment in the fish dock, which we consider an important cornerstone of the local fishing economy.

"There has been some neglect of the facility in recent years, which now that we have control again, we are determined to address.

"The cooperation of the businesses that use the dock has been vital in the progress we have made so far, and everyone recognises that the longer term viability and commercial success of the dock is something we can all contribute to, by working together.

"There are some innovative ideas coming forward and we very much hope that these will benefit the community as a whole and temper some of the negative impact of fishing quotas and bad weather that has plagued the sector lately."

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