IN a “devastating” start to 2018 the Black Rock Lave Net Fishermen’s Association has had their boat and its trailer stolen.

The group is the only remaining lave net fishing group in Wales and relied on the boat for more than a decade after recovering it off the Black Rocks.

The fibreglass boat is 17 feet long with a long and distinctive deep keel and a hardwood gunnel. It has SALAR 2 on the side and a Welsh flag sticker, the trailer is single axle and both are thought to have been taken on New Year’s Eve.

Black Rock Lave Net Fishermen’s Association secretary Martin Morgan said: “It has devastated all of us, we had the boat for a good number of years, it’s a very good, safe boat which is irreplaceable.

“We found it wrecked off Black Rock 15 or 20 years ago and we restored it, it means a lot to the fisherman and it’s a big loss to the fishery.

“There is no great monetary value so we can’t understand why someone would take it.”

Mr Morgan said the boat had sat in their compound for nearly 20 years and had never had any trouble, it also would have taken quite an effort to remove the boat and trailer.

“The trailer only had one wheel on it and it would have taken two men to move the boat. They would have had to have a spare tyre or put both of them on something.”

If the boat it not returned it will be a huge blow to the group come the start of the season in June.

Mr Morgan said: “If it doesn’t turn up then we’ll have to buy a new one and we’ll have to raise the funds, but I’m optimistic it will turn up somewhere.

“Our biggest outgoing is the boat, we need the boat to fish of course the trailer as well to get it there; we need both to keep the fishery going.”

After discovering the boat had been stolen the group posted an appeal on their Facebook page which was shared hundreds of times, a level of support which was humbling.

Mr Morgan said: “There has been a massive response, we have been humbled with the support of the public not just with this but for the group.

“Lots of people follow the fishing and it just shows there are a lot more good people out there than the people who stole the boat.”

Gwent Police is also asking for anyone with information to come forward.

A spokesperson said: “We’re appealing for information following the theft of a fishing boat and trailer from a fishery’s compound on Black Rock Road in Portskewett.

“The boat and trailer were stolen between the morning of Saturday 29th December 2017 and 2.15pm on Monday 1st January 2018.

“If anyone has any information please call 101, quoting log 342 1/1/18 or you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”