Fishermen on the Lizard Peninsula are at the centre of a scheme that will help protect them against damaged crab pots allegedly caused by French fishing vessels.

Lost or damaged fishing fear costs the fishing industry thousands of pounds and puts businesses at risk.

In the past Andrew George, MP for West Cornwall, has called on UK authorities to press the French government into prosecuting French vessels that have allegedly towed away Cornish crab pots and other fixed gear placed around the six mile limit to which some foreign vessels are permitted to fish.

More recently, some fishermen have complained that they have often lost crab pots when ships have dropped anchor on them or fouled the ropes that are attached to them.

Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the Maritime Coastguard Agency, has now written to Mr George promising to introduce measures to help protect local fishermen around the Lizard.

Mr Massey wrote: “Working with the UK Hydrographic Office, I am pleased to tell you that we are making some changes to the relevant nautical charts, to draw attention to the presence of crab pots.”

He said the charts would be annotated with the words “fish pots”, and the local pilot instructions for Lizard Point to Falmouth would warn of “an unusually dense concentration of crab pots” that extends up to six miles off the coast between Lizard Point and Nare Point, nine miles north-north east.

“Much of this gear is unmarked and creates a risk of fouling to vessels anchoring, particularly in the deeper water offshore,” the text will add.

Welcoming the news, Mr George said: “Local fishermen deserve protection. Most are small local boats - often single handed - and cannot afford these losses.

“Some have had their crab pots towed away or damaged by larger foreign vessels and there has been an increasing trend of larger ships mooring temporarily in the approaches to Falmouth, causing hundreds of pounds of damage and threatening the livelihoods of local fishermen.”

He hoped that this initiative would improve the situation.