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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Newlyn Fish Box Museum.

While many people have time on their hands, Newlyn Harbourmaster, Rob Parsons is currently looking for both fish merchants and fishermen to help add to the harbour's growing collection of unusual fish boxes. In particular, he is after early wooden and cardboard examples as these seem to be in very short supply. 

Donated boxes should be left by the harbour office with a label indicating an intention for the box(es) to be added to the museum collection.

A full list of existing box types and names will be available shortly.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

~Coronavirus: UK fishing industry ‘will go bust’ in weeks without urgent intervention~

Coronavirus could see hundreds of fishermen "go bust in the next two weeks" unless there is urgent government intervention, minsters have been warned.

Coronavirus could see hundreds of fishermen “go bust in the next two weeks” unless there is urgent government intervention, minsters have been warned.
The industry has been rocked in recent days as demand from export markets and the domestic restaurant trade has dried up due to the outbreak.

Labour’s shadow environment minister Ruth Jones, speaking in the Commons, warned without government help the whole sector could be in danger. She said: “I have spoken to fishers and their representative organisations right across the UK in recent days and they are worried. In just the last week the market value of fish landed by British fishers has fallen in value to 20% of normal rates. There are significant concerns about the viability of the UK fishing industry, especially small boats, which are the backbone of the British fleet. Many fishers are telling us they will go bust in the next two weeks. Does the Secretary of State agree with me that we must take whatever steps necessary to support fishers and the fishing industry to cope with the pressures of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the best way to help fishermen was to “get the markets moving again”.

He added: “Officials had meetings yesterday with fishing representatives, I’m looking for some feedback from that to agree what we will do next.”

Mr Eustice later faced questions over the resilience of the supply chain, given the scenes in supermarkets in recent days.

He said: “There isn’t a shortage of food, the challenge that we’ve had is getting food to shelves in time when people have been purchasing more.

“That’s why we have taken steps including setting aside delivery curfews so that lorries can run around the clock, relaxing driver hours to ensure the deliveries can take place more frequently and we are in discussions with other Government colleagues in MHCLG around other support that we would deliver locally to get food to those who are self isolating.”

Mr Eustice also ruled out enforcing social distancing measures in supermarkets.

“We will not do that measure”, he said.

“It was something that was done in Italy, with a restriction on the number of people in stores and what they found was they just had hundreds of people huddled together at the entrance to the store and it’s counterproductive.”

Full story courtesy of Press and Journal by Daniel O'Donoghue

The fleet fishes on during COVID19

Despite a huge drop in fish prices as the country struggles to maintain supply chains for fresh fish many of the bigger vessels in the fleet are fishing on hoping that prices will be sufficient to make each trip viable for the boat and the crew. Crystal Sea is landing off the end of the Mary Williams pier followed by skipper Ryan Davey taking the Stelissa to sea - a 20 hour steam ahead of them to the fishing grounds is a big enough commitment in itself.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Financial support package for fishermen and fishworkers.

It is widely acknowledged that the UK Government’s package of financial support to mitigate the economic impacts of the coronavirus health emergency, is unprecedented outside wartime. The immediate task is to assess how good a fit those support packages are for the fishing industry, which is in many ways unique as an economic sector, and to identify any gaps which require additional attention. Government and industry are dealing with a dynamic and fluid situation under extreme time pressures.

Business Support and Support for Wage Earners

Although extremely welcome in many businesses, including some in the fishing sector, the Government’s package of grants, loans and support for workers who are on the PAYE system, is of limited relevance to the many fishermen who are self-employed share fishers, with no guaranteed wage, but reliant instead on a share of the earnings of each trip.

That is why the industry waited anxiously on Thursday evening (26th March) for the Chancellor’s announcement of financial support measures for the self-employed.

Package for the Self-Employed

  • The self-employed will be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2500 a month.
  • This scheme will be open for three months but can be extended “if necessary”.
  • The scheme will be open to anyone with trading profits up to £50,000, available to anyone who makes the majority of their income from self-employment, and only open to people with a self-assessment tax return in 2019.
  • The scheme will be up and running by the beginning of June. The Government will look to get it set up faster but cannot make any promises.
  • To make sure no one misses out, the Government has decided to allow anyone who missed the filling deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.
  • The first payment will come in June, but the payment will be backdated to capture payments for March, April and May. To assist people with the late payment, the Government also said that income tax payments due in July can also be deferred to the end of January 2021
  • Unlike the employee scheme, the self-employed can continue to work as they receive support.

Our first impression is that the furlough arrangements for waged employees, and parallel support for the self-employed have together the capacity to bring relief to many working in the sector, including many self-employed share- fishermen. June is however a long time to wait and there will certainly be cases of hardship. There will be some, possibly many, who fall through the gaps at the bottom and the top because of the way past earnings have been recorded. Universal credit is the only safety net for these fishermen.

The urgency with which these packages have been constructed mean that detailed guidance is not yet available and there will be many who remain unclear about their individual situations. Providing that guidance and dealing with anomalies and confusions is a priority.

Fishing Businesses

The one remaining, very visible, gap in the Government’s support package is for the many vessel operators who have continuing fixed costs during the health emergency but have seen their earnings collapse completely or considerably as demand has fallen away.

Support is urgently required for these businesses, who have seen their markets dramatically contract, or disappear completely, as restaurants, fish and chip shops, supermarket counters have closed, and many export markets have faced difficulties.

The Government has provided grants of £10,000 to £25,000 to business affected by enforced closures in the hospitality and restaurant sector. In many cases this is the market supplied by fishing vessels who are equally impacted but do not receive the assistance provided for the customer facing part of the trade.

We believe that the Government shares the industry’s goal of keeping fishing businesses and the entire supply chain intact, so that they can recover rapidly once the health measures and movement restrictions can be relaxed. To achieve this, direct support for fishing vessels who face harbour dues, equipment rentals, etc. will be essential.

There are different ways to deliver this support and we understand that conversations are underway within government. Clearly Treasury approval will be required.

We believe that the Chancellor understands that fishing is a unique sector, which often does not fit the standard models of economic activity. The Government also understands very well that fishing is a totemic sector.

Where markets have not completely collapsed, vessels and supply chains should be supported to maintain operation to contribute to the food security of the nation. This will only be possible if earnings are at a level that can cover costs. Where markets have dried completely, vessels must be supported to cover ongoing business costs so that they are in a fit state to start fishing and trading when recovery arrives.

Full story courtesy of the NFFO - 30TH MARCH 2020 IN DOMESTIC FISHERIES POLICY

Coronavirus update from Seafish.

Marcus Coleman, CEO, Seafish gives an update to the UK seafood industry on what help and support there is during the COVID-19 infection. 

For further information visit www.seafish.org

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Trawl through BIM guide on solutions to reduce unwanted catches

For all those trawlermen currently home ashore here is the latest advice on solutions to reduce by catches courtesy of BIM, Ireland.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) recently produced an updated guide on technical solutions to reduce unwanted catches.

Developed in collaboration with the Irish Fishing Industry, the document summarises the results of gear trials and survivability studies which assist with the landing obligation and boost fisheries sustainability by decreasing juvenile, over-quota and non-target catches in demersal trawl fisheries.

The landing obligation is primarily implemented through discard plans which specify detailed requirements for demersal fisheries in North-Western waters. These include survivability and de minimis exemptions which permit some continued discarding, and gear measures that aim to avoid unwanted catches during fishing. New gear measures are also implemented through other legislation, such as remedial measures under the annual EU Regulation on fishing opportunities.

The raised fishing line is one such measure. Vessels whose catches consist of at least 20% haddock will be required to use this gear in the Celtic Sea from the 1st June. Tested and developed in Ireland through a series of gear trials and a flume tank workshop, the gear substantially reduces cod catches resulting in avoidance of an area closure under remedial measures for cod in the Celtic Sea.

The raised fishing line

Other updates include an assessment of a 120 mm cod-end in the Celtic Sea leading to its inclusion in the 2020 discard plan, and sole and plaice survivability studies which will be used to apply for exemptions for these species.

The BIM Fisheries Conservation team consists of myself, Daragh Browne, Matthew McHugh and Martin Oliver. We have a busy year ahead on new gear trials and studies to deal with changing regulatory requirements. We can always find time, however, to lend a hand to vessels and crews interested in testing, tailoring and embedding appropriate gear modifications into their fisheries operations. Contact us at geartrials@bim.ie or 091 564318 for further information.

The new guide and detailed studies on reducing unwanted catches are available at http://www.bim.ie/our-publications/fisheries/

Dr Ronan Cosgrove, Fisheries Conservation Manager, BIM

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Final post from Sprat aboard the Julie of Ladram fishing in the western English channel.

Mike Smith, aka Sprat has been keeping us posted as to his thoughts while fishing during the Coronavirus pandemic. Of great concern for fishermen aboard these big trawlers is, "Will there be sufficient buyers on the market to buy their fish?"