New Northumberland fisheries patrol boat named after well-known former councillor

A well-known former Amble councillor was ‘proud and touched’ after a new fisheries patrol vessel carrying his name has been officially launched

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 26 July, 2019, 16:45
From left, Al Browne, Les Weller, Mike Hardy, Robert Arckless, Coun Eileen Armstrong, Coun Ian Hutchinson and Peter Dade.

It means that the Northumberland coast now has a new asset to help balance the conservation of the inshore marine environment and the interests of local fishing communities.

The new rigid inflatable boat (RIB) was brought into service by the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) at a naming ceremony at Amble Marina, where it will be permanently berthed.

With a top speed of 40 knots (about 46 mph), the cabin RIB will be used mainly to enforce local, national and international laws protecting the fishery between the Scottish Border and the River Tyne, out to six nautical miles.

The Robert Arckless MBE at Amble Marina.

The vessel is called Robert Arckless MBE in honour of NIFCA’s former chairman and the Northumberland county councillor for Amble, who performed the naming ceremony. It was officiated by Peter Dade, of The Fishermen’s Mission, who also gave the blessing.

Mr Arckless said: “I was honoured to serve as a member of Northumberland Sea Fisheries Committee from 1989 and to chair the new Northumberland IFCA during the transition period of the new organisation from 2010 and in its early years until my retirement in 2017.

“I was very proud and touched to learn that NIFCA’s new RIB is to be named after me.

“It was a privilege to work with a great team at Sea Fisheries and Northumberland IFCA. Their important work, with partners, to conserve and protect the marine environment and fisheries is needed more than ever for this and future generations.”

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Explaining the choice of name, NIFCA’s chairman, Les Weller, said: “It’s in recognition of Robert’s giving, not just to the people of Amble, but to the people of Northumberland.

“The people that know him will know that he’s a man of faith, honesty and integrity and he’s just an inspirational guy, so the whole authority thought it was pertinent and right that we recognised him in this way.”

The new 9.5-metre vessel, which replaces the authority’s existing open RIB Bravo 1, was built at Ribcraft in Yeovil at a cost of £146,000, with 70 per cent funded by European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the balance coming from NIFCA’s own resources.

The vessel is capable of carrying four crew at speeds in excess of 40 knots and with a range of approximately 200 miles.

NIFCA’s chief executive Mike Hardy said: “What we are able to do now by having the Robert Arckless MBE here in Amble is deploy very quickly to go north or south.

“We can cover the whole area of the district up to the Scottish Border or down to the Tyne in about an hour, which means if there’s anything we need to deal with, we can do so very quickly and ultimately this is for the benefit of the fishery and the marine environment.

“I like to think there has been a bit of foresight on our part in looking to what’s going to happen in the future. With Brexit at the moment, we just don’t know what’s going to happen.

“We have got to carry on with business as usual, but also need to be able to adapt. The two vessels we have got now give us the capability and the range to deal with whatever is required both in terms of events that happen in the district, but also any extra duties that we may be given by Government.”