2021 Seafish fleet survey researchers’ diaries: Sunny days

Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez reports from the North East of England

In my last article, I remarked on how different things seemed since 2019, when Joe, Oscar and I were on the quayside for our last pre-Covid fleet survey. We’re now a couple of months into this year’s survey, and it’s great to see activity fully coming back to ports and harbours.

There is a touch of déjà vu, to the easing of restrictions in summer 2020, but it does feel like we’ve returned to business as usual this time. Last year, of course, was no mirage. The impacts of Covid, lockdowns and market disruptions all remain. However, it’s not all doom and gloom!

Better weather seems to have given a much-needed boost to the fishing industry after such a long winter. The inshore fleet in the North East of England appears to have gradually reactivated during the last few weeks. I’ve met many fishermen who have just laid their first fleets of pots and traps.

Meanwhile, families are also out in force, making the most of the sun and enjoying their holidays. And what could be better than a day out angling with fishermen on a real fishing vessel, like you can do at Seahouses?

The good news continues, as the Fish Mish is also back out and about. Offering support to fishermen since 1881, the Fishermen’s Mission is currently helping more than ever. Right now, it is working to ensure fishing crew can access Covid vaccines, by putting skippers and their crews in contact with local vaccination centres. If you are as lucky as me, you might find one of their officers on the quayside, as I did with Claire [pictured above with Juan]. Do not hesitate to get in contact with them if you need support.

Continuing with positive news, Nephrops stock quality is believed by local fishers to be among the best seen in these fishing grounds in recent years. This will hopefully help a situation made challenging by historically low prices. Some skippers tell me they are keeping their gear light this year to offset fuel costs, which are rising again – another card up the sleeve of these resourceful people.

There are also said to be some good generations of lobster and crabs. This is welcome news, as juveniles were affected by the ‘Beast from the East’ in early 2018. Now there is a reminder of how long-lasting the impact of the weather, and the challenges it brings, can be. For now, let’s enjoy these happy and sunny days while we have them.

Carlos is a fleet researcher with Seafish, working on the 2021 fleet survey, which is taking place now. If you are happy to take part, please email: fleet.survey@seafish.co.uk with your name, email and/or phone number and port of operation.

Find out more here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.

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