Fisherman uses Net to send "Tweets from the deep"

7th August 2013 in Media

Trawlerman to Show Harsh Reality of Life at Sea To Help Tackle Industry’s Negative Reputation

Fisherman uses Net to send

A veteran fisherman will highlight the challenging, complex and sometimes dangerous nature of life at sea by tweeting an entire day aboard his trawler in a bid to challenge some of the negative perceptions which dog the UK fishing industry.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Tweets from the Deep’ and organised by the National Federation of Fishermans Organisations (NFFO), will take place on Wednesday, 14 August during National Fishing Month* to raise awareness of the often dangerous daily tasks fishermen perform to put food on the nation’s plate.

David Warwick says he wants to show the British public fishermen aren’t the “pillagers of the seas” they’re portrayed to be and instead hopes to showcase what a life on the high seas is really like, as well as the practices used by the majority of the industry to fish environmentally and sustainably.

Since the day he left school more than 25 years ago, David has earned a living as a commercial fisherman. Having built his own trawler he set up a commercial fishing business with his father in 1996. Today he sails from Plymouth in his 10.5m trawler Valhalla, catching mixed species including cod and haddock as well as whiting and lemon sole.

David starts at 3am to sail out to fishing grounds up to 20 miles of the Cornish coast and often doesn’t return until 7pm at night. In summer, the crew can be out for up to 16 hours, six days a week. On a good day they could net up to £2,000 of fish, but equally can be forced home empty handed if the weather is poor or if a net breaks.

It’s this pressure that is poorly understood by the general public. Despite huge advancements in technology, fishing in the UK remains a dangerous profession. In 2011, 24 vessels were shipwrecked, while eight fishermen lost their lives.

David joined this initiative to provide a glimpse into his life:

“Villages and communities up and down the British coast rely on fishermen, as providers of food and income. To be tarred as ‘pillagers’ that don’t care about the future of fishing is ridiculous. Most of us are second or third generation, if not more, and we fish sensitively and sustainably to ensure the future of our business.

“I have a two year old son that I hope will have the opportunity to make his living from the sea if that’s what he chooses, and that’s what my fishing colleagues and I are working hard to ensure.”

Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, said: “The fishing industry has made amazing advances over the last ten years and sustainability is now at the heart of the way it operates. Despite this our hard working fishermen are too often portrayed as the pariahs of the sea.

“We are therefore undertaking this initiative with David to hopefully dispel some of these myths and show how our fishermen deliver an important, sustainable, traceable and healthy food source. We hope this event will go some way to showing the hardships fishermen undergo and reinstate them to where they belong, as heroes of the seas.”

According to the most recent figures available, in 2011, the UK’s 6,444 fishing vessels landed 600,000 tonnes of fish (including shellfish) with a value of £828 million. There are around 12,400 fishermen, with the industry providing 14,331 full time jobs.

Fish consumption has risen steadily since the 1970s, with four out of five households in the UK eating seafood at least once a month. The NFFO estimates the fishing industry has provided the basis for 200 trillion meals since the end of the Second World War.

‘Tweets from the Deep’ will take place Wednesday, 14 August to coincide with National Fishing Month (19 July- 26 August) and people are being encouraged to follow the event at @NFFO_UK and put their questions to David using #FishTales.