Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said that Porthleven’s out of pocket fishermen should be able to claim aid to cover loss of earnings in the wake of last week’s storms.

His words came as he visited the port this afternoon, for a private meeting with harbour master Phil Ward and four of the area’s fishermen.

Accompanied by West Cornwall MP Andrew George, Mr Clegg heard and saw for himself the affect the storms had had on the fishing community. Ten boats were sunk, three of them lost for good, after the sea defences were washed out of the inner harbour.

Over coffee and cake at Nauti But Ice the group, which also included residents of Methleigh Bottoms in Porthleven who had suffered flooding last week, spoke with Mr Clegg who said he recognised the difficulties faced by the port in what he called “very volatile weather.”

In particular, he spoke about the loss of earnings affecting the fishermen, who are unable to go out to sea as a result of the dangerous conditions.

Some of them have been unable to go out since the middle of December. 

Speaking after the meeting Mr Clegg told the Packet: “I think the fishermen should be entitled to some kind of help, exactly the same way any other business who may not be flooded but are cut off from customers.

“They can apply for hardship funds and I think there’s a strong case that the fishermen in a community like this has the same right to apply.”

He added that the weather was becoming "increasingly unpredictable", putting this down to climate change, and said: "That's why it's important that we not only have to provide help in the eye of the storm but are also here to provide the help afterwards."

Earlier in the afternoon he spoke with members of 771 search and rescue squadron at RNAS Culdrose, thanking them for their ongoing role in saving lives around the Cornish coast – often in treacherous weather conditions.

Only last week the team rescued French fishermen whose vessel sunk off Padstow.