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Talk: The UK Fishing Industry – Feb 2022


 Behind the scenes in the UK fishing industry – Nigel Bankes

A member and past Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers Company, Nigel spoke about the changes that have taken place in the UK fishing industry and to create awareness about the fish we eat.

The Fishmonger’s Company is an active organisation supporting and managing fishing through its Charitable Trust of which Nigel is chair of the Fish & Fisheries Committee, a specialist team to oversee the Company’s fisheries and decision-making process.

Nigel said how the deep-sea fishing industry, traditionally carried out from Fleetwood, Grimsby and Hull, had declined with the imposition of fishing limits around Iceland in particular. This gave a greater opportunity for foreign boats to catch deep-sea fish. . The traditional bases have now become processing centres for frozen fish.

Much fishing is now with the smaller boats operating from a large number of UK harbours.  The catches are very much for mackerel and shellfish which are sold for either home consumption or a vibrant and viable export trade.

In emphasising some of the difficulties faced by any fisherman, Nigel compared fishing to that of farming. In farming, the farmer has a set amount of land on which to grow crops or for livestock with a known end result. With fishing, even with all the state of the art radar, GPS etc., the fisherman has no idea as to the location of fish in a vast area of sea and so a catch, and therefore, money, is not a certain outcome.

To illustrate the complexities of the industry, Nigel posed a number of “did you know” questions to members;

  • that mackerel is the largest catch in UK waters
  • that we import the majority of the fish we eat and export the majority of the fish we
  • The reality behind the outwardly colourful but significantly challenged inshore fishing fleet and the steps that are being taken to support

Nigel commended members to look at the “Discover Seafood” website set up by Fishmonger’s Company where fish can be sourced direct from the inshore fishing fleet. It will advise as to which species are in season and will find delicious recipes to make the most of seafood’s amazing taste and flavours.

Jonathan Meredith gave the vote of thanks.

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