Newlyn price crash
Prices for pollack crashed at Newlyn from £4.50 to less than £0.50 per kilo. Image: Through the Gaps

Newlyn price crash

The turmoil generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty over access to European markets has left one Newlyn  crew owing money on the boat’s expenses after a landing failed to cover costs.

Pollack is mainly exported to France and Spain. Image: Through the Gaps

According to Newlyn harbour blog Through the Gaps, earlier in the week pollack were fetching £4.50 per kilo, but by Wednesday morning the price had collapsed to only £0.41 per kilo for the 8000kg landed by four boats.

One netter’s catch of prime pollack, which is generally exported to Spain and France, left the crew severely out of pocket as the boat’s quota had been leased for £0.50 per kilo.

The crew are all share fishermen, paid a proportion of what’s left after expenses have been covered. As a result, earnings failed to come close to covering costs, especially factoring in fuel and other running costs on top of the quota leasing cost.

Prices for line-caught mackerel were down around 20% on the usual price, while prices for hake, which is increasingly in demand locally but which used to be 90% exported, have continued to hold up.

The Cornish Fishermen’s PO, along wth other POs in the region, is liaising with the three South-West auctions

‘There is a great deal of uncertainty at the moment and in reality that uncertainty is likely to continue,’ said CFPO chief executive Paul Trebilcock.

‘Market demand has fallen across the board with demand and price for fish and shellfish, in particular, whitefish. Shellfish merchants (crab and lobster) have almost entirely ceased taking any shellfish. Some prime fish including dover sole is currently holding in terms of price but this should not be seen as assured or long term.’

The CFPO has already recommended that trips should be kept short, minimising the risks of landing higher volumes from longer trips that could be difficult to sell.

‘We are going to keep in close liaison with other South-West POs and markets on an ongoing basis and will endeavour to keep you informed as more information emerges,’ he said.

‘Discussions have begun with DEFRA (through NFFO and UKAFPO jointly, as well as by individual POs) regarding a support package for fishermen but this is in early stages and almost certainly won’t be a quick fix. Given the poor start to the year, weather-wise, many parts of the fleet are entering this crisis with very little resilience/money in the bank, therefore measure must be genuine and include both real money and regulatory considerations,’ Paul Trebilcock said.

‘We will do everything we can to support you during this worrying period. We will be bringing you a Fathom podcast very soon with advice and guidance on direct selling and updates from Defra on financial support for fishermen. We are also working with our Seafood Cornwall initiative to help keep up the demand for fish and shellfish in Cornwall and support local fishermen and fishing communities.’