Plymouth City Council is supporting the fishing industry with its Call 4 Fish initiative – and a call for Government to do more to help a sector that the Council sees as being on the brink of collapse.
Plymouth Council has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice to lobby for urgent additional support for fishing.
Fishing is a key sector, not only to the Plymouth economy where it supports more than 2000 jobs, but also to many communities across the South West region.
Seafood valued at more than £110 million are landed across the three South-West ports of Newlyn, Plymouth and Brixham every year, and the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact, bringing the fishing sector to the brink of collapse.
Plymouth has supported the creation of Call 4 Fish, which connects the public and organisations directly with suppliers who are able to deliver fish direct to doorsteps, with a £10,000 funding boost to get it up and running. This provided immediate support to local fishing businesses.
Call 4 Fish launched on 24th March and has already connected with more than 293,000 people. It has been so successful that it is now branching out to other ports across the UK with 15 areas now signed up to provide the ‘quay to kerb’ service to the public.
‘We want to keep the port open, keep livelihoods going and keep people fishing, and to do that we need the government to take urgent action,’ said Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council.
‘As a local authority, we have done everything within our power and have supported the launch of Call 4 Fish, which is now being rolled out nationwide. But more needs to be done. Gaps in the current support for businesses need to be filled and more substantial interventions need to be put in place urgently to support our fishing industry.’
Plymouth has called on Government for urgent action in four key areas:
• To ensure that fishing boats can be categorised as small businesses with premises, enabling them to be eligible for grants. Currently fishermen do not qualify for the business support grants as fishing boats are not deemed as premises in the eligibility criteria.
• To create a flexible funding pot which will enable innovative local solutions to challenges: Every local authority is identifying new, locally specific challenges to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. A decentralised pot of funding would enable rapid and efficient implementation of innovative solutions, giving local authorities greater discretion to solve issues with solutions such as Call 4 Fish.
• To secure the fishing market with a commercial price for fish: As the price of fish has plummeted for many markets, Plymouth is asking the government to secure the market price of fish to prevent sector collapse.
• To support to keep fishing ports open and operating: The fishing sector is dependent on a viable and functioning port.
‘Plymouth would welcome support to ensure that the fishing port, commercially operated by Sutton Harbour Holdings is able to remain open and boats can continue to go to sea,’ City Council leader Tudor Evans said.