2021 Seafish fleet survey researchers’ diaries: The fisher, the accountant, the mechanic, the chef

Seafish fleet researcher Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez reports from the east of England

Another couple of weeks out in the field have passed, and we’ve gathered more valuable insight from fishers. It doesn’t matter what you discuss, it’s always a masterclass in biology, engineering or sustainability – to name just a few topics.

Long drives, unsocial hours and tide times are just some of the factors you need to gamble with if you want to catch fishers; this is not a 9-5 job. If you think that chasing fish is difficult, imagine chasing fishermen! But the effort is always worth it.

It’s been a pleasure to listen to accounts of how some of you still use landmarks to guide your trips around the fishing grounds. Who could argue with that, especially if one such landmark is the beautiful Whitby Abbey? It sounds easy, but I struggle to imagine navigating with bad weather, strong swell or engine failure.

It’s also been nice to see how many young crew members have enrolled during this year after completing their training, especially in the east of England. New entrants are so important for the industry. They’ve been trained and prepared to face the challenges of the sea, and now they’ll start learning all the tricks and expertise from ‘old school’ skippers and deckies. They’ll be the new blood, keeping the industry alive for generations to come.

Talking with fishers is always an inspiring experience, and a very powerful research exercise for everyone. My favourite part is exchanging recipes. I can’t help myself when I see the magnificent fresh ingredients that fishers bring ashore. Bass with red chilli and lime, dressed crab, grilled prawns, smoked haddock, baked lemon sole with cider… the options are endless!

I could stay talking with you for hours, but I remind myself that you’ve probably already had a long day without a break. The day hasn’t finished once the fish is landed, as there are always deliveries to sort, paperwork to complete and possibly boat maintenance or gear repairs to do as well. Without forgetting that you’re also dads and mums, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. It’s a privilege to speak to you all!

Carlos is a fleet researcher with Seafish, working on the 2021 fleet survey, which is taking place now, with Seafish’s researchers visiting ports and harbours. 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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