Saturday, 9 October 2021

Harbourmaster Rob Parsons to set sail for Torbay.

In a move, that will have come as a surprise to many, Newlyn harbourmaster Rob Parsons has decided to move on and will be taking up a similar post to command Torbay harbour in Devon.

Ex-Navy officer Rob took over the helm from harbourmaster Andrew Munson who had been in post for 30 years at a time when not only the harbour but the fishing industry in general was beginning to come to terms with a new world order - the consequences of growing concern for the environment and the impact of fishing sustainably were beginning to make themselves felt at all levels, not least in the day-to-day running of England's largest fishing port.

Increasing legislation meant that many working practices both at sea and ashore began to change significantly with the result that Newlyn had to look hard at catching up in a world where standing on boxes of fish was still the norm and many of the local fleet would qualify as vintage if they were household items.

Under Rob's tenure, market manager Lionel now logs a super-efficient fleet where all but a few are now modern fully sheltered steel fishing machines where modern fish and gear handling equipment are the norm, even down to many of the smaller single-handed boats. The new navy blue broom swept clean as harbour property and quays were rid of dumped and abandoned gear or given a facelift and several wrecks removed as tough HSE regulations dictated a more rigorous approach to harbour operations and management. 

Plans for a completely new fish market structure had been shelved in previous years.

Top of the list of structural changes was a well overdue revamp of the existing fish market - so it was down to Rob and the Harbour Commissioners to create a fish auction worthy of selling fish in the 21st century.

Eventually, a new set of plans were drawn up and visits to and from other modern ports including Brixham for research purposes, saw 2018 herald out the old fish market building transformed...

into three well-lit, refrigerated auction halls and a huge fridge for day-boat fish though the continuing the shout auction...

finally ended when a totally computerised auction saw Newlyn fish sold online for the first time in January 2020. 

Newlyn Pier and Harbour Commissioners Chairman, Rob Wing commented.

“We thank Rob warmly for his major contribution to the success of Newlyn Harbour as a modern, fit-for purpose, strategic fishing port and congratulate him on his new appointment, it has not always been easy and Rob has overcome a number of seemingly unsurmountable challenges with hard work and resilience, but he leaves Newlyn in a much better place than when he found it to hand over to his successor, for which, we are most grateful. We look forward to working with the new incumbent to build on Rob’s many achievements during his time here and wish him well for the future.” 

Through the Gaps wishes Rob all the best at the helm of his new command - his support for the Newlyn Fish Festival made it an event that, now the major market building changes and Covid restrictions have hopefully passed we hope his successor will see the festival re-introduced for the benefit of the port's fishing community - bon voyage Rob!