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Welsh fishing industry in crisis due to perfect storm of challenges

09 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Fishing boats. Photo by Mooganic is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

People are quitting the Welsh fishing industry because of “extremely difficult trading conditions” according to Chair of the Welsh Fishermen’s Association – Cymdeithas Pysgotwyr Cymru.

Jim Evans told Nation.Cymru that a culmination of “influences” is contributing to the current challenges his members are currently facing.

“You can’t separate the many influences, but obviously there’s Brexit and the export issues, then the pandemic, then the fuel and energy crisis and a cost-of-living crisis on top of that,” said Mr Evans, who added:

“We have so many challenges in front of us it’s hard to have a clear path as to how we navigate those challenges.

“Certainly, in rural Wales, it’s not as if big business or jobs are going to be created anywhere else, we’ve got to preserve the jobs we’ve got.

“Fishing, like agriculture, is part of the fabric of places like Pen Llŷn.”

Registered vessels

Mr Evans, added: “There are 410 vessels on the Welsh fishing register, but an independent report produced last year suggests that there were only 249 vessels actively fishing in Wales.”

It’s unclear whether this means that fishermen and women are having to look for other work, Mr Evans said.

“Does it mean that they’ve stopped fishing altogether? I know that’s the case for some. It’s not a complete picture.

“People are making those decisions because the environment is becoming so difficult. Rather than struggle to continue they’re making the decision to stop, and that’s a big concern.”

Food banks

The cost-of-living crisis is not only having an impact on fishing businesses themselves, the wider public are also feeling the pinch, he explained.

“What people buy depends on what money they’ve got spare. More people are using food banks, going for own brand products in the supermarket – what we consume has changed so much.”

Jim Evans

On top of that it’s becoming more challenging to find people who are prepared to work in the fishing industry, claimed Mr Evans:

“There’s a lot of competition in the workplace and that puts the fishing industry and agriculture in the position where they’re competing with other highly paid industries and businesses.”

Grant funding

Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced that vessel owners in Wales are now able to apply to a £400,000 fund to adapt to the rapidly changing market conditions for seafood products.

Ms Griffiths said: “We understand the pressures and challenges our fishing industry is experiencing.”

The support is from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) which is co-financed by the Welsh Government and the European Commission.

Fishermen and women have between now and 12 May to apply for funding to buy equipment which will add value to their catch and to make their business more sustainable.

Examples of equipment include ice bins, shellfish tanks, and vessel and shore-based scales.

Jim Evans said he wants to encourage anyone with an interest to consider applying to the fund.

Applicants can benefit from grant funding of up to 80% towards the cost of capital equipment. The maximum grant award from the funding available is £30,000.

Successful applicants will be notified in early June and then have a 4-month period in which to purchase items and submit their claim.

To apply for funding from the scheme, applicants must be registered with Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online.

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1 year ago

Where are all those ‘leavers’ who were so concerned about the fishing fleet before the referendum now? Hardly a BBC Question Time programme took place without UKIP and their fellow travellers in the Tory party saying how badly done by the fishing communities were under the EU. Is it not ironic that Welsh Government and EU money is all that is left for our fishing communities today. When Johnson talked about an oven ready meal it certainly was not a fish meal he was blathering about.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Geraint

Just one example of the Fat Shanks effect…

One of a relatively small number of men who have and are putting the future of our world in peril…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

If our boats can’t fish, close the grounds to those who can and make a marine sanctuary of our waters… I knew an ex-navy diver who had a dive school on the south west corner of Ireland and when boats got a net round the prop he would get a call to help. This was long before Ireland joined the EU and big French and Spanish boats were moving in and hovering up the fish and if it was one of them he would hack their nets to bits but if it was an Irish boat he would be as… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

There certainly is some logic in making much larger areas marine santuaries and for banning trawling. That will allow fish and crustacean stocks to recover. Man has, over the ceturies always over exploited fish stocks in the interest of short term profit which has left fewer and fewer fish for future generations. What we need is a sensible scheme that will support current fishing communities diversify out of fishing and into other activities that will generate a reasonable income for them. Whilst no expert, it strikes me that the boat and other skills of the fishermen might be very useful… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Not to mention servicing floating wind farms, respectful marine-life observation and local coastal transport. A wind and electric powered boat-building industry to supply an increased presence on the water is another possibility for local people with maritime experience and qualifications…

Lobsters deserve a better deal, I see that ‘Rock Salmon’ or Dog Fish, as we used to call them, is back on the menu. I doubt there are many Skate left out there and Blue Shark, next to none. No more Hemingways and Zane Greys…

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