For those who haven’t heard, commercial fisheries leaders are copying the farmers and seeking Government handouts for storm damage and loss of earnings. See links below for details.

Are they really, genuinely, after more tax payer’s money? Certainly, but the real purpose is to take advantage (as they always do) of the opportunity provided by the media coverage of recent storms and achieve as much publicity as possible to reinforce the image in the public psyche of fishermen being the bravest, hardest working, most economically valuable sector who only do what they do in order to ensure we all have enough to eat!

So how does the ‘commercial fisheries’ sector compare to ‘agriculture’ in England?

Agriculture in England employs over 200,000 and that doesn’t include the farmers and their partners themselves. There are now 5877 regular fishermen in England together with 1000 part-time fishermen.

The Gross output of Agriculture in England is £18 billion with farm incomes of £3.8 billion.
The total value of English fish landings is a mere £165 million which even if it was all calculated at retail (after transport, processing, packaging, wholesaling and retailing) wouldn’t exceed £500 million.

Commercial fishing leaders want ‘parity’ with farming who have been promised £10 million. We reckon, on that basis, fishing should get about £500 !

And if you’re worried there wont be enough fish to eat, DON’T. Almost 90% of all seafood consumed across the UK is either imported or derives from aquaculture.

Even SEAFISH acknowledge the UK catching sector is no longer important as regards UK food security. Their 2006 internal audit report included this:

37. Over the 25 years since 1981, there has been a very substantial increase in the amount of fish which is imported into the UK from foreign catchers for processing and/or consumption. Only a relatively small proportion of the fish now consumed in the UK is caught by the UK fleet while much of the fish caught by the UK fleet is exported. The health of the UK catching sector is no longer of such central importance to the UK seafood industry.

And since 2006, imports have risen significantly.

Don’t get us wrong, we sympathise with ALL those who have been affected by the storms and floods. How well have charter boat operators done this year to date? Or for that matter what sort of trade have coastal tackle shops had over recent weeks? A whole host of people have suffered but I havent heard that they are holding their hands out to Government for help.

Finally, commercial fishing leaders are constantly trying to convince all and sundry that the seas are stuffed full of fish. If that’s the case, one would think that commercial fishermen would have enough wool on their backs to deal with a spell of poor weather. After all, the licenses were handed out free of charge, the bill for managing the sector (DEFRA fisheries) is paid for by tax payers, they’ve enjoyed decades of grants for bigger and better boats, quay facilities, ice plants etc.

We wont talk about the £millions from blackfish scams that must have been salted away.

Well, actually we will just mention one black fish event – and there were many!

Remember this: Skippers and firm fined almost £1m for part in £63m ‘black fish’ scam

Some £63 million was salted away somewhere and even after the £0.75 million fines were paid, there was a handsome profit of £62.25 million. We’re into the realms of banking bonuses here but at least the bankers are taxed on theirs!