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Friday 24 May 2024

It's a Bank Holiday weekend #FishyFriday!

It's that time of year when fishing goes slack and those below waterline jobs get done...

with boats brought up to dry out on the hard, skipper Roger keeping an eye on the Martha Mae to make sure she leans against the quay and not out so that she doesn't fall over as the tide drops...

they're on the move again...

two fine blues...

plenty of paws...

and even more butt - a big shot from the Ocean Pride...

summer shells...

usual landing of tails form the St Georges...

nice whiting...

while the prawn boats made p for a lack of net caught hake...

and Dory...

the inshore boats picking away at a few mackerel...


and cuttles...

young Georgie scraping those hard patches again...

plenty of spiders at the moment...

just a few boats in port this morning...

one with a big gear repair job to do...

days of sail, the Leader at rest...

template time...

the scourge of any trawler, old trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, the broken ends are often worn to a hyperdermic-like point...

showing the broken outer steel wire which encases a tarred cloth wound around the inner copper cable proper which is what transmits the signal...

it takes a while to fill the tanks...

punt paint-up time.


Thursday 23 May 2024

Fisheries data mapping - An update from the MMO

Marine Planning team Paul Gilliland, MMO Head of Marine Planning, 22 May 2024 - fisheries, marine planning During 2023, a number of fisheries workshops were conducted as part of work undertaken by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and others to support thinking around marine spatial prioritisation. The objective of the workshops was to validate both the approach and the data used in fisheries mapping.

Fishing representatives identified several key areas where the approach and data could be strengthened. Work is now being undertaken to identify how these key points can be addressed and implemented, with an expectation to produce new outputs in the future.

Dale Rodmell, Chief Executive at the Eastern England Fish Producers Organisation, noted:

"It’s essential that fishing grounds are effectively safeguarded when considering other marine users in our increasingly crowded seas, so it was very much welcome that MMO consulted with the industry towards informing the most appropriate ways to represent, interpret and use spatial fisheries data.

We will continue to engage with the fishing industry to share progress and gather further feedback."

In the meantime, a project commissioned by MMO to examine “the sensitivity of the under-12 metre fishing fleet to offshore wind development in the East Marine Plan areas” is being finalised. The project engaged directly with fishers through face-to-face workshops across eight ports in the East region.

Representatives from the under-12 metre fishing fleet attended, helping to produce maps of their fishing grounds and highlight how they are being impacted by offshore wind developments. In line with standard practice, the final report will be published on the MMO Evidence projects register for use by any interested stakeholders. We hope this will include fishers, their representatives, and offshore wind farm developers.

For marine planners, the potential application of both analyses includes feeding into the process to replace the East Marine Plan, which formally began on 22 April 2024, and informing the location of future offshore wind sites in England, noting the challenge of meeting renewable energy targets in sea areas that are already busy.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Taking back control - UK fishing industry to benefit from cutting-edge technology to help manage fish stocks .


Use of cameras, gear sensors and GPS units will help improve the sustainability of UK fish stocks.

The sustainability of UK fish stocks will be better safeguarded through the use of technology to monitor and manage fishing activity in English waters, the government has announced,.

The technology – known as Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) – involves using camera, gear sensors and GPS units to make sure that catches are accurately recorded and fish are not unlawfully thrown back into the sea. The data captured will support the fishing industry to manage stocks sustainably and give retailers and consumers greater confidence about the sustainability of our fish.

Volunteers within five priority fisheries will begin to use REM systems from this summer, with their work helping to refine the UK’s monitoring objectives and ensure the technology works for fishers.

Once monitoring objectives have been finalised and the REM systems are demonstrated to be working well, REM systems will become mandatory for all vessels in those fisheries – including non-UK vessels.

The information delivered through REM will support the long-term profitability of the sector and help to build the UK’s food resilience and security.

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:

  • Leaving the EU has given us the opportunity to take a new approach to fisheries management that is in the best interests of the UK fishing industry. By harnessing this technology, we can sustainably manage our fish stocks, to benefit the industry, future generations, and our marine environment.  
  • A different approach to managing discards will also be adopted in England, with changes to be made to better account for catches.
From 2025, landings and discards will both be counted against quota allocations, and the amount of quota used to cover discards will vary and will depend on the type of vessel and gear types used. In addition to this, discard reduction schemes will be established to identify ways to reduce unwanted catch in the first instance. Working collaboratively with regulators and the industry, the schemes will identify and resolve barriers to improved gears being used.
Fishers will start to see both approaches implemented at the start of next year.

Further information: 
Link to the discards reform consultation response.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

So, you want to be a fisherman?

Seafood Cornwall Training have a free event for those interested for a career in commercial fishing. Please get in touch to book a morning or afternoon slot. Our tutors will be there to answer all questions regarding a career at sea.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Razor wire not razor clams - horrific hauls off the Cornish coast.


In recent weeks a few local netters have picked up so horrific jetsam while fishing over 50 miles sou'west of Newlyn...

coils and coils of razor wire...

Photos & video courtesy of skipper Ryan Davey aboard the Newlyn gillnetter, Stelissa

the sort used by vessels transiting the notorious pirate-ridden waters off the east coast of the African continent, though it is unclear why the wire was dumped or by whom...

imagine having tis in your gear and having to cut it free without endangering your crew.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation trends and attitudes report

Drawing on a public survey exploring attitudes to the #fishing industry, @sff_uk recently published their first Industry Trends and Attitudes Report.

Friday 17 May 2024

Plymouth Fish auction closes today!

A sad ay indeed for Plymouth and local fishermen who have grown to depend on a live fish auction and market at Plymouth. It's closure today also affects over 50 inshore vessels from nearby ports like, Fowey, Looe and Mevagissey - not to mention the boats that fish from smaller ports and coves .

The closure of the port is not without further problems - namely its status as a designated landing port for all those regular customers. To that end, the regional MMO have organised a meeting for this afternoon. Contact the SW RFG if this affects you

The MMO have organised an online SW RFG meeting this coming Friday (3-4:30pm, 17th) to help the inshore industry remain compliant with the coming closure of Plymouth Trawler Agents. They understand the unusual situation Plymouth and some of the surrounding ports have been put in and so they hope it will be helpful to address the potential changes and how industry can remain compliant with regulations. This is a very specific RFG meeting focusing solely on the PTA closure and therefore will not include any slot on quota, nor will they be discussing options for the future of Plymouth market as this is not within their remit. Members of the enforcement team will be attending and will be available to answer any questions. 

The agenda for the meeting is as follows: 
  • Buying and Selling (RBS) legislation – Pippa, MMO Compliance   
  • Box labelling – Emma, MMO SW Coastal 
  • Transport documents – Emma, MMO SW Coastal
  • Funding – MMO Grants 
  • Stevensons logistics – Paul, Stevensons 
  • BTA logistics – Adam & Matt, BTA

Further background to the story:

Talks are underway in a bid to keep the city’s fish market operating after Plymouth Trawler Agents ceases trading after tomorrow. Sutton Harbour Group Plc (SHG), which owns the quayside market, said it has begun discussions with potential operators.

Meanwhile, alternative arrangements are being made for fishing boats to sell their catch elsewhere after the closure of Plymouth Trawler Agent Ltd (PTA), which runs fish auctions at Sutton Harbour. One insider described this as “crisis management” and Plymouth City Council spoke of its “shock” to hear PTA was wrapping up after nearly 30 years and called it “the end of an era”.

At a parliamentary debate on the future of South West fishing, Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard called for the Government to step in. He said: “The closure of Plymouth’s fish market and auction is a shock. Fishing is a vital part of our city’s economy and social fabric.

“That’s why I’m calling for Government support to help secure the market’s facilities and find a new operator. The closure of the fish market not only shakes the economic viability of Plymouth fishing boats but those boats that landed in smaller Cornish ports and overland their catch to be sold in Plymouth.”

No explanation has been given for the closure of PTA and the company has told PlymouthLive it is not making any public announcement. But it is understood economic factors, and even the bad weather over the past few months, may have played a part.

Two weeks ago Sutton Harbour-based PTA wrote to Plymouth’s fishing fleet to say its final auction will be on May 17. Owners and skippers were urged to find other markets for their catch.

Plymouth Fishing & Seafood Association (PFSA) has been working with fishing vessels who will continue to land their catch at Plymouth after May 17 but it will have to be transported by road to markets in Brixham and Newlyn. It will mean big changes for skippers who will have to register and face additional charges.

SHG said it was told by PTA on May 3 that the company would be ceasing to trade. It described PTA as “a long-standing pillar of the fishing community and strategic partner with the company” and said: “We are saddened by this turn of events.”

SHG said it is committed to the re-establishment of the fish market at Sutton Harbour “as quickly as possible”, and has started discussions with “entities who have expressed interest in assuming the operation of the market”.

A SHG spokesperson said: “Since receipt of the news, the company has been intensively engaged with various and multiple strategic stakeholders for the implementation of immediate arrangements, including Plymouth City Council, the Plymouth Fishing and Seafood Association, the operators of the Brixham and Newlyn fish markets, local vessel owners and skippers, and others. These immediate arrangements are being put in place to ensure that catch being landed to Sutton Harbour will be brought to market at either Brixham or Newlyn.”

SHG said it is committed to providing services to enable the landing of fish at Sutton Harbour, including the sale of fuel and ice. The spokesperson saidL “Vessels are encouraged to establish contractual relationships with the Brixham and Newlyn operators to enable the settlement of auction proceeds, as well as sale of fuel and ice via Sutton Harbour in the most efficient and seamless manner.

“The company is committed to working with the fishing industry and its various members to weather this storm, with the hope and intention of emerging from it together, with a stronger and enhanced fish market operation looking to the future.”

Edward Baker, PFSA chief executive, said it was hoped the market could continue to operate. He said: “There is a lot of will and desire to create a new market on a new model.”

Plymouth City Council said it was aware of “a number of ongoing issues relating to the fish market”, but news of its closure still came as shock. Senior council officers met with the PTA, PFSA and fishing industry representatives last week and with SHG since then. Senior officers have also been in touch with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to discuss the impact the closure could have on smaller fishing ports along the coast, such as Looe and Mevagissey.

The authority stressed Plymouth hosts a variety of fishing sectors and will continue to be a fishing port. The PFSA and the council are working closely in partnership to support the fleet of about 100 Plymouth boats, with another 100 also using the facilities.

The council said transporting catch to Brixham and Newlynwoudl be an interim solution while options are explored. Council leader Tudor Evans said: “Everyone we speak to wants the market to continue in some form. Our hope is that there will be a viable way for vessels to continue to sell their catch in Plymouth and we are extremely keen to help broker these conversations.

“Fishing has been part of Plymouth for centuries and while the closure of the market is the end of an era, it is not the end of the industry in Plymouth. Vessels – the smaller ones in particular – will still land their catch here but we as a city need to work with the industry to explore all possible options to support its future here in Britain’s Ocean City.”

Plymouth Trawler Agents was incorporated in 1994 and began trading the following year. It is an independent firm of fresh fish auctioneers and fishing boat agents.

The company said it was formed "by fishermen for fishermen". In 2018, the business handled the catches of 392 different fishing vessels and auctioned 4,222 tonnes of fish to a value of £16.7m from its base at Plymouth Fish Market.

Plymouth Trawler Agents' most recent set of accounts, for 2022, showed it had net assets of £2.423m and employed 22 people It is understood workers will be made redundant.