Fishermen take control of their future

Scarborough fishermen are taking the future into their own hands and setting up a cooperative in the hope of getting a better price for their fish.

The group, which is set to start in the next couple of weeks, will be called Scarborough Fishermen’s Cooperative and is being supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The initiative came about as part of Defra’s work to help the “under 10” fleet - boats under 10 metres - which make up 74 per cent of the fleet across Britain, but only get four per cent of the quota.

The Government department has made support and funding available for these fishermen, which has resulted in some successful cooperatives being set up, particularly in the south of England.

Now, a five-strong group in Scarborough have decided to take the opportunity as a way of fighting back against the tough times the industry has faced in recent years.

Bob Roberts, owner of Capernaum which fishes out of Scarborough, said: “It will mean people being able to come and buy the product direct from us on the pier.

“We are hoping to get grant money for a van and it would be nice to have a shop.

“It will also give us the ability to look at different markets.”

Mr Roberts added that other ideas include issuing buyers, such as hotels and restaurants, with a sticker to display on their premises to show they buy local fish.

Then if establishments say they’re using local fish and in reality they’re not, Defra can take action.

He also said: “We want to put a tag on every lobster with the name of the boat which landed it, with a QR code for people to scan so they can see the boat online.

“People are interested in where their food has come from.”

Malcolm Ward, who has been fishing for nearly 40 years, is also a founder member of the cooperative.

He said: “We’re in a catch 22 situation now. We’re on the quota system, but we’re not given much quota to play around with, so we have to try and maximise the price.

“We can only land so much, so on our own we can’t give people the quantities that they want.”

Mr Ward added: “It’s tough times now. We’re trying to work with what we’ve got.

“The bigger buyers have moved on to imported fish and stayed with it.”

Mick Handley, who has the vessel Venture, is also taking part in the initiative.

He said: “We need to get better prices and maximise our profit.

“Crabs and lobsters are as cheap to buy as they’ve ever been, but our costs have gone through the roof.”

The cooperative’s other members include Dave Cook, who has the Elvina, and Kenny Chapman, who has Who Cares.

The group is soon meeting with Scarborough Council and Defra to discuss this project and other developments in the pipeline at West Pier.