Over the summer maritime charities Seafarers UK and Cornwall Rural Community Charity (CRCC)…
The Tweeting Fisherman David Warwick
David Warwick has been a fisherman since the day he left school more than 25 years ago. Originally he fished with his father off the Northumberland coast, catching crab, lobster, cod and salmon. Shortly afterwards, David moved north to study for his skipper’s ticket at Fraserburgh, a now-mandatory qualification needed to captain a boat. While in Scotland David began fishing out of Fraserburgh and Peterhead ports. Then, in 1996, he re-joined his father and they built their own trawler, beginning a successful commercial partnership.
Today, his father is retired and David has swapped Scotland for Cornwall, fishing nearby in his 10.5m trawler Valhalla. His catch remains mixed, still picking up cod and haddock , as well as whiting, lemon sole, plaice, cuttlefish, monkfish and squid. Often David’s day starts at 3am with him and his crewmate setting sail from Plymouth. In summer they can be out for up to 16 hours, six days a week. This is because in the winter months their time at sea is severely limited by the weather; particularly due to their smaller category trawler, which is more susceptible to the elements.
It isn’t just the weather that makes a life at sea unpredictable, though: on a good day David can come home with £2,000 worth of fish; yet, other days a net might break and David is forced home empty handed. With diesel prices at an all-time high, having this happen too many times is not an option for any fisherman.
Despite huge advancements in technology, being a fisherman in the UK remains a dangerous profession. In 2011, 24 vessels were shipwrecked, while eight fishermen lost their lives. David wants to demonstrate the pressures of running a business with such inherent dangers, which is why he signed up to the ‘Tweets from the Deep’ campaign.
He said: “Making a living on the sea is not an easy option. The days are long and sometimes cold, and it is one of the most dangerous occupations around, but still it remains a rewarding job. Men risk their lives putting food on people’s plates, but often in return are pilloried in the newspapers as heartless sea barons, scooping up vast quantities of fish indiscriminately.
“Hopefully this event will show the British people that we’re actually just men earning a living and doing so in a sustainable and considerate way.”
The event is being organised by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), the representative body for fishermen across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to provide a glimpse into what is often a misunderstood and misconstrued industry.
Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, said: “Many fishermen have the trade going back several generations in their families. It has always been a family and community focused business. The hostile media coverage of the industry over that last few years has been unfair, unwarranted and ill-informed.
“These days fishermen work extremely closely with scientists and conservationists to ensure what they are doing is both environmentally and sustainably viable. We hope the ‘Tweets from the Deep’ campaign will show this and make people reconsider what they think they know about the commercial fishing industry.”
Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Annual Report 2011, http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/MAIB_Annual_Report_2011.pdf