Shellfishermen hit by double whammy – Fishupdate.com

Shellfishermen hit by double whammy Published:  15 May, 2008

SHELL fishermen at Bridlington and other East Coast ports have joined the growing chorus of protest over soaring fuel prices.

Like their Scottish colleagues, they say they are facing a huge increase in costs, but have been hit by a double whammy because of falling prices for their crabs and lobsters.

The price of lobsters alone has fallen by at least £6 a kilo over the past few weeks and the Yorkshire fishermen are blaming large imports of Canadian lobsters, which they claim are inferior, but are serving to drive down prices.

Normally, they could cope with this unwelcome competition, but the price of oil is making things much worse. They say their costs have risen by 40 per cent this year and are likely to go higher.

The grounds off the Yorkshire Coast offer some of the most abundant shell fishing in Britain, attracting an increasing number of boats. In fact, until recently, Bridlington has continued its rebirth as a European leader in the shellfish industry following the collapse of cod in traditional waters – and has become the most vibrant and productive shellfish port on the East Coast. But now things are beginning to turn sour.

Steve Cowans, chairman of the Bridlington Fishermen’s Society, said about 10,000 kilos of Canadian lobsters had flooded the UK market recently which was greatly adding to his members’ problems. He said fishermen could not readily increase their prices to compensate for the higher fuel costs.

“I think you will find that many boats in this are up for sale at the right price.”

Bridlington skipper Graham Young told BBC Radio Humberside this morning of the increasing desperation among his colleagues and added that his vessel was up for sale. Another skipper, Gary Lee said he was sailing more slowly and operating closer to port in order to conserve fuel.

www.fishupdate.com is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.