Figures show a decline in fishing

Fishing boats in Scarborough Harbour.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
Fishing boats in Scarborough Harbour.'Picture by Gerard Binks.

CONCERNS have been raised at the decline in the amount of fish landed in Scarborough in just three years.

CONCERNS have been raised at the decline in the amount of fish landed in Scarborough in just three years.

Figures contained in a new council report show that there has been an overall downward trend in white fish landed in the town – while shellfish figures remained stable.

The report also highlighted other problems facing the industry including:

- a lack of fishing vessels visiting the town mainly due to better fishing grounds being found to the north

- continuously rising fuel costs

- a lack of days at sea

- a reduction in quotas.

Shaun Wood, from Scarborough fish merchants TG Wood, said if boats sailing out of Scarborough wanted to take advantage of the better fishing grounds off the north east of Scotland they would have to sacrifice some of their allotted fishing days just to get there and back.

He said: “If they were going to bring their catch back to Scarborough they would be two days worse off. For a seven day trip it would take him nine days.”

Mr Wood said that the cumulative effect would radically reduce the number of trips a boat could make in a year – 12 trips for Scarborough boats compared with 15 for boats based in Peterhead.

He said: “The decisions made in Brussels are making this happen. The council have done everything possible and they’ve supported the industry.”

According to the report the total weight landed in the harbour for the past three financial years has steadily reduced:

- between April 2008 and March 2009 a total of 860,530kg was landed

- between April 2009 and March 2010 a total of 798,311kg was landed

- and between April 2010 and March this year a total of 826,933kg was landed.

Mr Wood said that one of the ways that fishing boats supplemented their income was with an activity known as “guard duty” – where they helped other vessels out at sea.

He said: “Thank god those boats have got something to do when they’ve run out of quota days.”

He added that two boats were currently based in Scarborough compared with 30 20 years ago. He said: “We couldn’t continue as it was 20 years ago at the rate we were catching it. But the amount of fish landed in Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington is a small fraction that’s landed in Peterhead.”

He said: “I import 90 per cent of the fish into Scarborough from abroad. Their Governments support them. Is our Government really behind what we are doing here? The figures speak for themselves but we have still got a fish market in Scarborough. It’s the most natural source of food that we have available on the east coast.”

The report, which was presented to Cllr Mike Cockerill – Scarborough Council’s portfolio holder for harbours – was written by Capt Ian Vasey who is the acting borough harbour master.

In it he said: “A continuous rise in fuel costs, lack of days at sea and reduction in quota all add to the general decline of the fishing industry.

“Recent landings from visiting scallop trawlers have been very welcome increasing revenue through the port during April and May.”