Tony Takes the Lead

16th February 2014 in Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

Inshore Fisherman, Tony Delahunty, writes to his local PM asking him to support the fishing industry. If every fisherman did the same, the case government to support the industry would be irresistible.

Subject: Fisherman's Plight

Dear Andrew,

My name is Tony Delahunty, I own and skipper an under 10 metre fishing vessel. My boat is based at Selsey and crewed by myself son and one another, we mainly fish for crabs and lobster. I am also Chairman of the South East National Federation Fisherman's Organisation, and I am emailing you as our member of parliament to ask you support our request for financial help during these extreme weather conditions.

The Chief Executive of the NFFO has released a statement to the press to lobby support for the fishing industry, this is a copy of the statement.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), which represents fishermen across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is calling for an urgent meeting with the government to address storm damage as UK fishermen are being prevented from earning a living due to the bad weather and poor infrastructure. Fishermen along the south west coast of England and in Wales have been hit hardest by the unprecedented stormy weather conditions and could face up to two months of no fishing without any compensation for loss of earnings.

The government announced yesterday a £5,000 grant for those business affected by the storms and floods and extra help from banks via 'payment holidays' and loans. According to the NFFO it is essential that fishermen are factored into this support.

Tony Delahunty, a fisherman from Selsey and the NFFO’s Chairman-elect, believes it is the most sustained and ferocious weather he’s seen in his 40 years in the industry: “In all my time as a fishermen, never has the weather been so violent and so extreme. We have had bad weather, but thissituation is unprecedented and is causing huge disruption to the industry.”
On top of keeping fishermen from making a living, the combination of high tides and extreme gales has hammered infrastructures, including vessels, harbours, sea defences, shingle beaches and static fishing gear. There are also real concerns for the stocks as crabs, lobsters and whelks are being found washed up on the beach.Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, said: “The government has a responsibility to maintain the infrastructures under emergency conditions to allow fish to be caught, landed and sold. We need to sit down as a matter of urgency and work out what funding is available and how it can be best channelled to put our industry back on an even keel. These are very exceptional circumstances and I want to explore with Defra and the government agencies what support can be provided.Estimates suggest 2,000 boats and around 4,000 fishermen are being affected by the weather and losses could run into the millions. Looting is now also emerging as a problem, after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency reported items being taken from a vessel wrecked against rocks near Porthcothan in Cornwall.
“After a poor start last year, fishermen are taking another battering and the money has to be found to replace damaged equipment,” continued Mr Delahunty. “It is a desperately worrying time. Everybody has families and mortgages to think about and it could be many months until the industry can recover.”
Even larger trawlers, usually able to go out in bad weather and relied upon to provide continuity of supply to the UK fish market, have only been able to snatch short periods at sea before being forced to return to shore. Now, because of short supply, some whole prices of fish have nearly doubled in just six weeks. There is concern some fishermen will be tempted to take more risks and go out in weatherin which they normally wouldn’t.
Mr Delahunty added: “All of this amounts to a serious setback for the industry at a time when the boats have enough to contend with, adapting to new marine protected areas, quota reductions and the imminent arrival of a discard ban. Plus, with some quota species being seasonal, meaning they’re only allowed to be caught at certain times of the year, it is forcing fishermen to take greater risks, despite already working in one of the most dangerous professions in the UK.”I have also had an article published locally along the same lines.

The fisherman would welcome your support. If you would like to meet me and some of the Selsey fisherman to discuss our situation I would be happy to arrange a meeting.