George Traves MBE

27th December 2013 in NFFO

A debt of gratitude is owed by every single fisherman in the UK to George Traves, who has died recently after succumbing to illness.

He commanded wide affection and respect over many years as the NFFO's representative on the Department of Transport Fishing Industry Safety Group. His personal commitment was to ensure that new safety rules made sense where it matters - at the level of the individual fishing vessel.

His fishing career spanned a spell as radio operator on the distant water trawlers, whitefish trawling in his own vessel, Janet M, to potting in partnership with his son, Chris. Until this year he also fished for salmon and trout from a small dory with a T net, off Bridlington. This range of experience allowed him to speak with knowledge and authority across many fisheries, sizes of vessel and fleet segments.

His willingness and ability to speak fluently on behalf of fishermen in his home port of Bridlington, led George to the forefront when the NFFO was established in 1977. He and other leaders in the industry recognised that fishermen need to work together and to talk to Government with a single voice if they wanted to have influence.

He was a member of the Federation's Executive Committee in an unparalleled run from 1977 to the present; latterly as a co-opted member, much appreciated for his calm wisdom and experience.

George was central to the establishment of the Federation's successful commercial division, NFFO Services Limited, and ran the company in its early years, providing much needed stability for the Federation's finances and ultimately, laying the foundations for our Training Trust, which provides grants to young fishermen for training and safety equipment.

The commercial success of NFFO Services arose directly from the necessary dialogue between fishermen and other seabed users such as offshore oil and gas and renewables. George earned the respect of the developers that he dealt with through his transparent integrity and plain speaking.

Given his personal and professional qualities, it was natural that George would be elected first as Chairman and then President of the NFFO. He was highly regarded by ministers and officials as someone who could deliver the industry's messages with force and clarity. During this period he sat as one of the Federation's representatives on the Seafish board.

George spoke from what he knew. And what he knew best was "our patch" - those fisheries prosecuted from the port of Bridlington and the Yorkshire coast. The port adapted radically to the decline of the whitefish industry in the 1990s by transforming itself and rising phoenix-like to become the largest shellfish port in the country. George was a part of that transformation and set up a successful cooperative marketing venture to maximise the return to the port's fishermen.

His service to the industry led him to be elected as both Chairman of the Bridlington Harbour Commissioners and the North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee. George was Chairman of the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees prior to their conversion into IFCAs.

In his fishing, commercial and representative work, George was ably supported by his wife Margaret. This was a true partnership. His warmth and willingness to offer advice and support earned him many friends throughout and beyond the fishing industry.

Our thoughts are with Margaret and the rest of his family at this time of sad loss.