Sunday, 3 May 2020

To buy or not to buy - your own country's fish?

A few recent articles in the media and issues of supply and demand:

In the UK:

Brits urged to buy fish as UK export markets are cut off:

Shoppers are being encouraged to try UK-caught produce as fishermen struggle with the impact of the coronavirus crisis. A number of skippers have decided to leave their vessels tied up because restaurants and chippies are closed, supermarkets have shut their fish counters and the export markets to Europe and China have been cut off. But some are still going out to fish, and are selling what they catch online or door-to-door. Seafood industry expert Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said: ‘This is a good time for consumers to try different fish where they can get access to them.  

Some of the more exotic species are not going abroad or into the restaurant trade, so there’s no reason why prices should not be low. ‘There’s Dover sole, crab, lobster, scallops that could be available.’ Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live He added there had been rapid growth in fishermen starting up doorstep sales. But he said: ‘I don’t think this will substitute the main supply chains – it won’t be anything of that magnitude.’ Seafish, which supports the British seafood industry, has provided online advice about selling directly to consumers. 

Fish markets are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: PA) Director Hazel Curtis said: ‘We export around 80% of the fish and shellfish caught around the UK, so some fishing boat owners are adapting and finding ways to sell their catch directly to fishmongers or to the general public. ‘Groups of fishermen around the UK are setting up websites so they can sell locally landed fish straight to local fishmongers or to households and we’re seeing an increase in the use of fish vans which makes it easier for people to buy seafood too. ‘We’d love people to support our coastal communities and eat more of the delicious seafood we catch.’ 

The Scottish and Northern Ireland governments have announced packages of support for their shellfish boats and Mr Deas expected help will be announced for their English counterparts in the coming week. How you can support the fish industry If you have a local fishmonger, call them and ask if they are offering delivery or safe-distance collection so you can support them where you can. Ask them to recommend fish which has been caught around the coast of the UK. 

You can also order online by signing up to Pesky Fish or looking for fish markets in your area, for example, The Cornish Fishmonger. The seafood industry body, Seafish, is collating information about how businesses are being affected by coronavirus – you can read its updates or email with any questions. 

Much of the high-quality shellfish caught in the UK is exported to France, Italy and China, all badly affected by the pandemic. The huge changes in the market mean many skippers could not cover their costs if they went to sea, leaving many vessels tied up. He said the centuries-old way crews were paid, by sharing the value of the catch, meant it was tricky to work out a fair scheme for the Government to support them, as it will with other self-employed people. 

In the meantime, fishermen like Rex Harrison, who works from Filey, North Yorkshire, will stay ashore. The 66-year-old, who has been fishing as long as he can remember, usually catches sea trout, crab and lobster, with the fish going to high-end London restaurants. He said: ‘At the moment we are shut down. ‘There are always jobs to do and at the moment we have been making new gear. ‘These are usually the jobs we do in bad weather. At the moment we have no-one we can send our fish to.’

Full story courtesy of the Metro

In Scotland:

Scottish fishermen could block access to Peterhead Harbour in a dispute over exports to France.

It is over claims of French supermarkets stopping buying some Scottish fish.

Skippers in Peterhead have said they could take action themselves if a political resolution is not found, in the midst of what has been described as a "testing and trying time" for the sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both the Scottish and UK governments said they were in discussions with the Scottish fishing sector and their French counterparts.

Meanwhile in France:

This article (translated by Google) appeared on the France 3 website:

The fishing and aquaculture sectors of Brittany did not take off, faced with the behavior of "certain large retailers" who would have called for "massive imports" of seafood, with the result, a fall in prices.

" Between 250 and 400 tonnes arrived by truck on certain days last week in Boulogne !" fulminates Olivier Le Nezet, president of the Brittany regional fisheries committee. "Monkfish, hake, julienne, skate, whiting, and so on, coming from Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark or Ireland ... And for us , it's complicated behind, while we're just restarting the machine ... It's true that there are always imports , continues the representative of the sector, who is not fooling around, but there it is the price especially which is indecent! Without any mood, we bring in fish, to buy monkfish at € 1.40 per kg, for example! " Remarked the spokesperson for fishermen, who questioned supermarkets and hypermarkets.

It would rather be the time to enhance local production

Eric Guygniec, owner of the Apak armament, in Lorient and whose seven trawlers have all returned to sea, says nothing else. "For the past 15 days, we have seen trucks arriving and there are more and more of them coming from all over northern Europe. So, we are not against imports, there have always been , nuance he, but we what we would like is that the fishmongers, the supermarkets, the fishmongers, put imports aside a bit, to enhance local production rather , this is really the time and there what we do it’s exactly the opposite. That’s what sets us apart! So some are playing the game, but others are taking advantage of the moment. And that’s really short-term profit. "

Fall in fish prices

"The courses held up well at the start of the containment, knowing that a good part of the fleet was stopped," observes Olivier Le Nezet, who is also the president of Breizhmer (association of actors of fishery products and Brittany aquaculture). "But for the past few days, these massive imports have caused prices to fall, jeopardizing the recovery of the other ships that have been docked since March," he said.

However the consumer always pays the same price at the stall

These imports "lead the way" according to Breizhmer, but do not affect the consumer . "A whiting sold 40 euro cents per kilo under the auction of Saint Quay-Portrieux (in the Côtes-d'Armor) will be paid 13 euros by the customer of a large brand located a few kilometers from the port. context that France lives " , underline the Breton fishermen and fishmongers. According to Breizhmer, "some supermarket chains have given in to the old profit demons while they continue to show their support for French producers" .

Products from Ireland while available in Brittany

In shellfish farming, "the observation is the same" . "Breton producers and their professional structures regret a drop in purchase prices by supermarkets and hypermarkets from their suppliers while the drop in sales volumes does not justify it," adds Breizhmer. "The sale of products of other origins, such as Ireland, while the French and Breton product is available in quantity on all the basins is not bearable" , continues Breizhmer. And "it is also not tenable to attend promotional actions on oysters in this period of crisis" , affirms Sylvain Cornée,

Fish imports from Scotland since last week

"It is indeed a very sensitive subject. There has been a resumption of imports since last week, especially Scottish fish at unbeatable prices , " said the National Fisheries Committee. This phenomenon affected "the gradual recovery that we were putting in place, " added the CNPMEM.

Minister of Agriculture to be challenged on these issues

The fishing and aquaculture sectors in Brittany require the various retailers to "behave responsibly, particularly in terms of purchase price to producers and traceability because consumers have the right to know the origin of their purchases " . They soon plan to appeal to the Minister of Agriculture and Food "to put an end to these practices"