FISH stocks in the Thames Estuary are believed to be dwindling and could threaten the livelihoods of Southend fishermen.

Paul Gilson, joint chairman of Leigh and Southend Fishermen’s Association, said stocks of several species of fish and shellfish have dwindled while Dover Sole have all but disappeared.

He said: “Over the last two we have seen a collapse of fish stocks across the board. The problem started in the upper reaches first around Canvey then year-by-year working its way down river.

"It started in the middle of the river and over time has spread north and south it now has reached out to 12 miles and from Ramsgate to Southwold. It has affected nearly all species of fish in some way or another.”

While it has not been established what the cause of the decline is, many blame the removal of part of the seabed to build a new port in the upper reaches of the Thames above Canvey.