Thursday, 20 June 2019

Government intervention - Recruitment to the Fishing Industry.

Right now the biggest issue facing many skippers and boat owners is that of crewing. 

Pilipino crew repair a trawl footrope.
Many larger vessels, once jammed with local men, are now totally reliant on crews from other countries like the Philippines and Sri Lanka.  Fine in the short term, but where are the local skippers, mates and engineers of the future going to come from?

  • The fishing workforce is ageing and the industry relies on labour from abroad.
  • There is limited understanding of the opportunities and realities of work in the catch sector among young people.
  • Careers in fisheries are considered dirty, with limited prospects and low pay.
  • High costs of entry and limited access to training present additional barriers. New funding schemes may overcome this.
  • Engaging with schools will help challenge perceptions of fishing and promote it as a rewarding career to young people.
  • The industry needs to adapt to accommodate a short-term dynamic workforce, in line with the
  • current priorities for young job-seekers. Providing a professional environment and transferable skills may enable this.
The situation in Cornwall and Devon is mixed. Many of the new netters employ crew from the Philippines while the fleet of big crabbers in Newlyn rely mainly on Latvian men to crew and skipper the boats.  

Brackan Pearce and crew take ice in Newlyn.
There exceptions however and boats like the Spirited Lady III with a combined age for skipper and crew of 57 can be contrasted to the UK fleet overall where the average age of crews is around 42 and up in the 50s for skippers.

Currently, there is an all-party Parliamentary Fisheries group researching the situation. The results of the first meeting can be found here. One thing is for sure, everyone involved in the industry can do their bit by promoting the huge number of positives enjoyed by fishing - especially when it comes to sustainable fishing, healthy living and lifestyle!