St Andrews fishermen are losing up to £1,000 a day due to the closure of the storm-damaged harbour.
Several commercial boats operate from the port, creeling for lobsters in the North Sea.
However, it has been closed since Storm Babet wrecked the harbour gates and washed in tonnes of sand and seaweed.
One of the slipways was also destroyed and a cliff face and pier damaged when huge waves battered the Fife coast during an unusually high tide on Sunday.
People have been urged to avoid the area until an estimated £500,000 of repairs can be carried out.
But it’s the build-up of seaweed that’s confining the fishermen to shore.
And the harbour trust is unable to dredge it until it receives permission from Scotland’s Marine Directorate.
John Chater and Gordon Cation operate two of the boats in St Andrews.
And they have expressed concerns for their livelihoods and those of their crews.
St Andrews Harbour situation is ‘very serious’
John, who has worked from St Andrews Harbour for 20 years, said: “The harbour is choked.
“We’ve not been able to earn any money for a good few weeks now.
“I almost lost my last boat when it became stuck on seaweed, it almost sunk – so this is very serious.”
John says now is a lucrative time for lobster fishermen as prices increase in the run up to Christmas.
“The prices are even higher than normal because of the weather but a lot of people’s creels have been ruined in the storm,” he added.
“I’d hoped to work right up to Christmas so it’s a lot of money to be losing – for me it’s about £1,000 a day.”
Using the harbour ‘a risk we’re not prepared to take’
Gordon said the harbour gates normally help clear the water of weed.
However, the damage means there is now no way of cleaning the bottom harbour.
“There’s so much weed it’s a danger,” he said.
“We could get it removed by using a JCB but we’re not allowed to do that without permission.
“We’ve all got crew to pay but we’re losing quite a lot of money.”
St Andrews Harbour Trust has said boat operators can use the port at their own risk.
But Gordon added: “That’s a risk we’re not prepared to take.
“We’ve been on the phone to our insurance companies to see if we’ll be covered if we have an accident but they’ve confirmed we won’t be.”
Trust seeking emergency permission to dredge
The pier along the edge of the harbour is also closed, meaning the students’ weekly pier walk has been cancelled until further notice.
And the path from the cathedral is also shut amid fears for the stability of the cliffs.
A 20ft drop has also appeared on the seafront.
The trust is now exploring funding options to allow it to carry out emergency and long-term repairs.
Regarding the fishermen’s plight, a trust spokesperson said: “We can confirm the channel is clogged with sand and seaweed as the fishermen state.
“Permission is needed to dredge the channel.
“It comes from Scotland’s Marine Directorate (previously known as Marine Scotland).
“Permission is usually hard to come by in normal circumstances.
“We have applied for emergency permission to dredge the channel at all tide states to allow the fishermen to return to work, and await their response.”