Grimsby fish auction suspended as chippies shut

Grimsby fish market

GRIMSBY fish market will continue to remain open for handling and contract sold supplies, although the fish auction has been suspended.

The decision to shut down the auction came earlier this week following a large downturn in trade resulting from coronavirus and new instructions on social distancing.

Although takeaways are permitted under the current coronavirus regulations, the National Federation of Fish Friers has urged its members not to remain open because of difficulties in ensuring that people stay two metres apart when queuing.

The result is that many – though not all – shops have closed and this has led to a dramatic drop in demand for traditional white fish, such as cod and haddock, of which Grimsby is the main supplier. Hotels and restaurants in the UK have also shut down.

A few shops have switched to taking delivery orders, but it is not enough. And while Iceland continues to have comparatively low infection rates, fishing effort is being cut back because many market outlets in the UK and Europe have closed down.

Despite the post war emergence of burger bars and ethnic takeaways, the fried fish trade remains a major force and is worth almost £1.5 billion a year.

Ironically, fish was one of the few staple foods that was not rationed during the Second World War. Ministers felt fish and chips, then the country’s only fast food outlet, was so much part of the national character, shops should remain open.

While many Grimsby and Hull trawlers were converted to mine sweeping duties, some fishing vessels remained in service and did venture out, but it was at a heavy cost.

Several hundred fishermen lost their lives to U-boats and mines in their quest to put fish on tables at home.

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