Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Fishing times they are a changing!



A new strategy for the fishing industry in Cornwall is set to be created as the value of fish landed continues to rise.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been working with the Cornwall Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) to draw up the new strategy looking at how the industry can be prepared for the future.

Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the CFPO, told the LEP board this week that fishing was part of the “social fabric” of Cornwall. He explained that the fishing industry in Cornwall was bigger than that in Wales and Northern Ireland in terms of fish landed and fishermen.

In Cornwall the latest figures from 2019 show that there were 543 boats and 917 fishermen and the quayside value of landings was £43 million. Wales, in comparison, had 414 boats, 897 fishermen and value of £19m while Northern Ireland had 326 boats, 822 fishermen and £57m of fish landed.

And while the number of boats and people fishing off Cornwall has reduced since 2000 the amount and value of fish landed has increased. In 2000 there were 724 boats and 1,141 fishermen in Cornwall, landing 12,700 tonnes of fish worth £26m. By 2010 the number of boats stood at 646 and there were 898 fishermen, landing around 12,700 tonnes of fish worth £30m.



But by 2020, while the number of boats had decreased again the amount of fish landed was up by 43 per cent to 18,100 and was worth £43m.

Mr Trebilcock said: “The value of fish has gone up. We have seen an increase in the value and the tonnage landed which hasn’t been in line with the reduction in the number of boats and fishermen. That is a result of us being more consolidated.”

Over that period the species being caught in Cornwall and the value of them has also changed significantly.

In 2000 the highest value fish was megrims with 1,048.5 tonnes landed, followed by scallops, monkfish, sole, pollack and crab.

This was the top 10 species by value in 2000:

1 - Megrims 
2 - Scallops 
3 - Monk 
4 - Sole 
5 - Pollack 
6 - Crab 
7 - Lemon 
8 - Hake 
9 - Lobster 
10 - Turbot 

But by 2019 it had all changed. Here is the top 10 species by value:

1 - Sole 
2 - Crab 
3 - Monks or Anglers 
4 - Hake 
5 - Lobsters 
6 - Sardines 
7 - Pollack 
8 - Haddock 
9 - Megrim 
10 - Cuttlefish

Mr Trebilcock said the fishing industry was more sustainable now and that the changes in species landed reflected this as well as the change in demand.



He said that some species which were not as valuable in 2000 had seen the prices creeping up. And the increase in species matched those which are MSC accredited with “sustainability at the heart of it”.

Mr Trebilcock said there was diversity in Cornwall in what fish was being landed and this was matched by the diversity in the industry.

He highlighted that as well as large ports such as Newlyn there were ports like Cadgwith which are much smaller but “are all important”.

And he highlighted that the fishing industry is not just about those who go to sea but also those involved on land, from the processing and sale of fish to those restaurants and outlets buying it.

He added: “Fishing is woven through the fabric of Cornwall. A lot of people are linked internationally and closely with fishing. That sense of community remains strong, particularly around the coast.”

Mr Trebilcock told the LEP that Cornish fishing harbours and villages underpin the tourist economy and that Cornwall Council research found that 58 per cent of visitors to Cornwall stated that fishing harbours and villages were their main reason for visiting.

He added: “Cornwall and Cornish fishing and fish-related business are big economically, socially and culturally important.”

And he pointed out that fishing provides community life and employment in remote parts of Cornwall where other opportunities are limited.

As part of drawing up the strategy Mr Trebilcock said that the CFPO had been speaking to people from across the industry in Cornwall to get their views on what the challenges are and what could be done to help them. He said a number of strengths were identified including the diversity of species, quality, emerging young leaders and sustainability of the leading species.

Among the challenges, or weaknesses, identified were the high entry costs for young fishermen, dependence on foreign labour, potential overfishing in some sectors and inability to control EU vessels fishing shared stocks.

Mr Trebilcock said there were also challenges related to export rules and costs and pressure from NGOs for sustainable sourcing.

And there has also been highlighted a need for investment in better facilities in ports and harbours, promotion and marketing of domestically landed seafood and in careers and training.