Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Expanded Seafood Response Fund for the UK’s seafood and aquaculture sectors.

Government has announced enhanced financial support for the seafood industry with cash grants for seafood and aquaculture businesses across the UK.

In January, the Government made available £23 million for seafood exporters that suffered a financial loss because of delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the EU during January 2021.

Having listened to concerns from fishing businesses across the UK, Defra will now be expanding the eligibility criteria to target catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses which have been affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and abroad, as well as disruption of exports to the EU. These expanded criteria will mean more businesses can get the support they need.

The scheme, which is similar to last year’s Fisheries Response Fund set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will open in early March and provide a grant payment to cover up to three months of average business fixed costs incurred between January and March 2021. It will help catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses with costs such as insurance, equipment hire and port fees.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: 

Our fishermen are at the heart of many of our coastal communities and we recognise the impact of coronavirus and the end of the transition period on them. This expansion of our £23 million support package will ensure many more businesses can benefit from government support.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of critical markets, and this has been exacerbated by issues faced by exporters at the border. We will continue to ensure we are listening to our fishing and seafood industry as we work to resolve these issues, and work with them to build up the industry in the months and years ahead.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, David Duguid said: 

Over the last few months, we have been listening to the seafood industry and have continued to monitor the impacts that the pandemic and export disruption has played on prices, exports and the market.

I am confident in the quality of Scottish fish and seafood but for many fishing businesses the lack of demand in the hospitality trade in the UK and further afield has had a real impact on market prices.

While we continue to take steps to beat this virus and work with the sector to resolve export issues - this expanded support scheme will help the many small and medium sized fishing businesses that support so many of our coastal communities.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis said: 

The fishing industry plays an important role in Northern Ireland for its people and communities, supporting around 2,000 jobs.

This expansion of the government’s £23 million response fund will ensure that the fisheries and aquaculture industry in Northern Ireland receives the financial and practical support it needs.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: 

The expansion of the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme highlights the UK Government’s commitment to Welsh exporters who are currently facing a uniquely challenging period.

We want to back our fantastic Welsh businesses and I encourage all who are eligible to apply for this support.

The main features of the scheme are:

  • For the UK catching sector, the fund will be open to under 40m vessel owners with fishing licences and who have a track record of fishing in the winter months. 
  • The scheme will offer support to UK shellfish aquaculture businesses, support will be provided on average ongoing costs based on Full-time equivalent (FTE) employees per business. 
  • Businesses who have received a grant under the recent Seafood Producers Resilience Fund in Scotland will not be eligible for the UK scheme. 
  • The Marine Management Organisation will administer the fund across the UK on behalf of Defra, contacting eligible registered owners and licence holders directly with details of how to apply, starting in early March.  A single payment will be made to cover a proportion of fixed costs over a three-month period from January to March 2021. 

The funding follows targeted support to help exporters with new processes. This includes the Seafood Exports Working Group, meeting twice a week to troubleshoot issues raised by the industry; and a newly established Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force.

The UK fishing and seafood sector is also set to benefit from significant government investment with a £100 million fund to help modernise fishing fleets, the fish processing industry, and rejuvenate an historic and proud industry in the UK, on top of the £32 million that will replace EU funding this year.

The Government also continues to seek urgent resolution to export issues, including the EU ban on the import of class B live bivalve molluscs and will explore further ways producers can continue to export this valuable seafood. UK mussels and oysters are highly sought after, at home and abroad. The sector has been highly impacted by Covid restrictions, and now barriers to trade imposed by the EU.

There is also wider support from the Government to the sector including the on-going Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the furlough scheme and the recently launched SME Brexit Support Fund to help businesses deal with export requirements.

Published 21 February 2021 From: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, David Duguid MP, The Rt Hon George Eustice MP, The Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, and The Rt Hon Simon Hart MP Fishing boats in harbour The

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Fishing into the Future


Some great news for the future of the fishing industry in the UK, read on:

Fishing into the Future (FITF), an independent UK charity led by people working in the fishing industry, has formed a partnership with the Fishmongers’ Company. The partnership includes a substantial grant to implement a three-year work programme that builds on their innovative learning and leadership initiative. This work is being coordinated by Fisheries and Seafood expert, Emma Plotnek, who has been brought on board to take on the role as FITF’s Programme Manager.

Education, education, education.

The major initiatives enabled by this grant will build on the charity’s education and leadership programme as well as strengthen an established peer-learning network. Since its inception, FITF has been instrumental in delivering unique learning opportunities designed to equip fishermen, scientists and fisheries managers with the knowledge, connections, and confidence to work together towards effective fisheries management, for a sustainable and prosperous UK fishing industry. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, FITF is currently focused on building relationships and knowledge remotely through an online network and series of digital interventions and events, aiming to restart face-to-face activities later in 2021.

Crystal Sea SS118  in Newlyn.

Fishing into the Future’s Chairman, Dave Stevens, owner and skipper of the demersal trawler, Crystal Sea SS 118, remarks on the importance of charity’s work and the benefit the support from The Fishmongers’ Company will bring:

“Improving regular communication between stakeholders is fundamental if we are to build trust among industry players, but on top of this we aim to increase the impact of these conversations by improving how we talk and listen to one another. When you compare a fisherman’s background with that of scientists and policy makers, we have a very different formation and experience, which puts us at risk of not making ourselves heard - or lacking the technical language to communicate what we know best through experience. Thanks to the support from the Fishmongers’ Company, we can continue devise and deliver solutions to help communication, build transparency and foster co-management that is nurtured by collaborative data collection and science.”

Fishmongers Hall, from London Bridge.

Support from funders such as the Fishmongers’ Company, and the voluntary input from FITF’s Trustees is vital to prove the concept that viable solutions to complex problems can be achieved through building knowledge and understanding among people working in UK fisheries.

Additional time and expertise is provided by Alison Freeman, Fisheries Programme Manager on the Fisheries Team at Fishmongers’ Company. She added “At Fishmonger’s we support a wide range of projects, grants, and convening to build and safeguard a prosperous and sustainable fishing industry that benefits its users. This collaboration aims to help build a transdisciplinary approach to fisheries management that emphasises the need for collaborative problem‐solving among stakeholders.”

Through additional funding from Seafarers UK, FITF has hired fisheries and seafood lead, Emma Plotnek, to coordinate this new programme of work. Emma is currently focused on strengthening and developing FITF’s network to improve knowledge, cohesion and collaboration within the UK fishing sector. This includes preparing events and tailored workshops, so that a representative pool of people within the catching sector can participate in management, science, and business scenarios. Emma adds: “Once the value of this work is fully appreciated, we hope the work delivered by FIFT will become integrated into the foundations of a prosperous UK fishing sector, based on effective dialogue, collaboration and a mutual understanding. “

The Charity’s work depends on engagement from a fully representative body of supporters and if you would like to find out more a
bout Fishing into the Future they can be contacted on the phone, via email or on social media:


Facebook: @FishingintotheFuture

Twitter: @fishing_future

Friday, 26 February 2021

Fishing reports on trawling from Farming Today this week.


Radio 4's Farming Today ran a series of reports specifically focussing on various types of trawling in the UK.

Monday: Farming Today starts a week-long look at trawling; how it works, how the industry could be affected by Brexit and what happens now the UK has more control over what happens in its waters. We start the week by speaking to Bryce Stewart, a fisheries biologist and associate professor at the University of York. 

Tuesday: Ahead of his speech at the National Farmers Union Conference - this year hosted virtually - the DEFRA Secretary, George Eustice, answers questions in a wide-ranging interview covering topics from the compensation for seafood businesses effected by export delays to the future of farm payments. And the Marine Management Organisation is consulting on plans to prevent bottom trawling on the Dogger Bank and three other Marine Protected Areas. 

Wednesday: Heather Simons finds out how fish markets have been impacted this year by the COVID pandemic, and by the UK leaving the EU. 

Thursday: A look at how dredging for scallops can be made more sustainable. Plus we discuss what a recent ban on Pulse Trawling might mean for scientific fishing innovation. 

Friday: The owners of a Hull-based trawler, which catches about 1 in 10 of every fish we buy from the chippy, warn they will be forced to stop fishing unless the government sorts out quotas. The Kirkella forms most of the UK’s distant waters fleet - she can take 12 tonnes of fish in one haul and then process and freeze it in an onboard factory. But since Brexit the UK has no fishing deal with Norway, in whose waters The Kirkella fishes. It all used to be negotiated by the EU, now the UK has left, we need our own agreement - which hasn't happened yet. Jane Sandell from UK Fisheries which owns the trawler, says unless that changes, The Kirkella and its 100 crew members are in trouble. She's seeking reassurances from the fisheries minister Victoria Prentis who says there should be a deal in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

George Eusrace, less than generous with the truth?

George Eustice was being deceptive on TV. I have read the Fisheries section of the TCA and undepurated shellfish export isn’t mentioned. This omission means the UK would abide by current EU regulations if it isn’t in Exit Legislation.

Eustice claims the EU “said” there wouldn’t be an issue with exports like it was an agreement they had whilst chatting over a pint. And he said they said there are Export Health Certificates which would cover unpurified bivalves. He is either lying or ignorant. The only EHC which covers bivalves specifies they need to be purified or fit for human consumption. There’s no ambiguity on this certificate and no Health Officer would sign an EHC to allow export of my oysters which have not been purified and are therefore not legally safe to eat yet. 

Eustice is being absurd suggesting there was a ‘one size fits all solution’ which Europe ‘said’ was fine This issue is not about public health. It is about industry warning that there would be huge problems if Govt didn’t acknowledge and fix them. Apparent Gentleman’s Agreements isn’t governance. 

There needed to be adequate bio security measures agreed on paper The TCA didn’t cover this issue so quite simply it fell into Third Country rules even though Eustice was warned and now he is blaming others for his apathy and ignorance.

Courtesy of Twitter feed.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Brexit and fishing, seven weeks on.

BBC1's Countryfile ran a short piece by Charlotte Smith who investigated whether Brexit is delivering all it promised for the UK’s fishing industry. 

Julie of Ladram steaming for Newlyn last week.

Among others, she caught up with Sprat aka Mike Smith aboard the Brixham beam trawler Julie of Ladram who featured on Countryfile during the first lockdown. Make up your own mind.


Sunday, 21 February 2021

Shellfish shambles explained.

Eighth generation oyster fisherman Tom Haward sheds some light on the 'EY shellfish ban' debacle that is affecting producers the length and breadth of the UK, not least for oyster fishing businesses like Fal Oyster and others in the Falmouth and Helford area of Cornwall.

Photo courtesy of Alan Clarke

The phrase, ‘EU shellfish ban,’ keeps being used by news outlets and it’s important to understand how this language is misleading and how Government is deliberately using misinformation to hide from its own failures. As a producer of live animals (oysters) who sells them on for human consumption, there are, quite rightly, rigorous standards we must meet to ensure what we sell is safe for people to eat. One of the most important factors in this process is the issue of water quality. If water quality is really poor (high amounts of sewage or rubbish dumped), animals like oysters will absorb the dangerous bacteria and make them unsafe to harvest.

There are 3 grades of water quality for shellfish production.

Grades, A, B & C. 

These grades were determined through when we were part of the EU. Simply, grade A waters are excellent and you don’t have to purify shellfish from these waters (some of our waters where we grow out oysters are A).

Grade B water means shellfish has to be purified before it can be sold for human consumption; most waters in the UK are B. The purpose of the grades is to ensure we use due diligence in our treatment of shellfish. It’s not a perfect system but it works...

As part of a large multi-country community we were effectively able to sell grade B shellfish unpurified to our neighbours where they would perform the process of purification before selling it on. Ideal if you harvested shellfish but didn’t have a purification centre. At least 2 years ago I noticed (along with others in industry) that if we were no longer part of the EU then as a 3rd country our food standards would no longer align, legally, and we wouldn’t be able to export grade B, unpurified shellfish...

This was raised with government figures as a major concern. It was obviously ignored. We (the UK) helped establish these EU regulations to have a consistent approach for easy, free flowing trade of shellfish. I said a no deal or equivalent would result in this catastrophe if it wasn’t looked at. George Eustace is lying when he says it was a surprise and when it is being peddled as an ‘overnight ban’. When he was fisheries minister he was aware of these worries. If I saw this coming then Johnson, et al should have...

The UK helped write the regulations government are now claiming they have been side swiped by. We are in this mess because those elected to serve us were too lazy and arrogant to read the small print because they wanted adulation without the work.



Following ever-increasing demand from those in the fishing and seafood coastal communities nationwide a new organisation, the Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance (I.F.S.A.) has been established.

Already endorsed by some of the country’s largest and most prominent industry groups, IFSA has been formed to, among several other agendas, seek recognition by Government and the Department of Marine that the seafood industry in Ireland requires their urgent intervention to redress the devastating outcome that BREXIT has beset upon the industry.

With the motto of “your voice in our industry”, IFSA is a self-funding, non-profit organisation which is not restrained by any existing regional political divisions, nor is it divided by differing industry sector interests and will be the spokesman for all individuals, vessels, fish companies of all sizes, fish shops, and all ancillary service companies involved in the industry nationwide. This provides a unique platform from which to give ALL interested parties a voice in demanding that our government affords our industry the support we deserve to navigate our way safely through the storm that BREXIT has forced upon our coastal communities. We will provide the opportunity for those who have invested and those who work in this industry to voice their frustration and demand action. Taking the wheel

Those involved in the formation of IFSA unanimously voted for the appointment of well-known industry supporter Cormac Burke to be the Organisation’s Chairman.

An ex-fisherman and later editor of The Irish Skipper, Fishing News, and Fishing News International, Mr Burke is also known as MD of the international fishing industry consultancy and PR firm FishComm Ltd.

In his first public statement as IFSA Chairman, Cormac said that he was honoured to have been chosen for this appointment and is looking forward to the many challenges that lie ahead.

“Coming from a fishing industry background and having spent most of my life involved in the fishing and seafood industry, in one form or another, I’m pleased to now be given this opportunity to serve the industry.

“This sector is made up of decent, hardworking people, many of whom have made heavy private investment in vessels, processing companies and ancillary services. But the biggest majority are simply reliant on this industry for their livelihoods.

“The spiral of decline in our traditional fishing ports will be greatly accelerated if our Government is not prepared to support the decent people that are proud to be part of our industry. The resilience and perseverance of these people has, in the past, helped our country to achieve what it has, against the odds. However, this latest challenge is catastrophic.

. “We cannot and will not accept to be relegated to the ‘poor relation’ of Irish commercial life. We cannot countenance a situation whereby vessels tie up, companies close down and once-thriving coastal towns and villages will face economic collapse.

“Many people in the seafood and fishing sectors believe that the only hope for progress is to unite the industry - a tough task given the challenges of existing regional representation and political restraints on many of the current representative groups - but hopefully IFSA can now be that unrestricted voice that the industry so badly needs,” he said.

Full contact details, website, social media etc will be made available in the coming weeks.