Rising diesel prices may soon to stop fishing boats from going out to sea as fishing will become too expensive, boat captains warned the Guardian.
Trawlers and merchant fishing vessels are now struggling with the burden of rising prices, which in many cases means tens of thousands of pounds extra for diesel for a fishing trip.
This is a blow to the already difficult fishing industry, which had hoped for better times since Britain left the European Union.
Vessels land their catch at the fish market in Brixham. The fish is sold at auction for a commission. The port receives a share, and also has the cost of renting a boat, food and other expenses. The main cost is for fuel.
According to Barry Young, managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents, which manages the fish market in Brixham, Devon, the largest fishing port in England, the price of diesel used by fishing boats has more than doubled in the last eight months and an increase of only 7 pence more will make the operation of some trawlers unprofitable.
“She’s very fragile right now,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to capsize. The price of our fuel is £ 1.08. If it goes up to £ 1.15, the boats will stop sailing. So seven more pence and they’ll run out.”
Brixham’s largest trawler, Julie of Ladrum, returned to port seven days at sea earlier this month and was on the verge of loss. Captain Sean Beck took home just £ 440 for his weekly work – equivalent to £ 2.60 per hour for being in charge of the ship and crew 24 hours a day. “It’s a stressful time for my family. And it’s stressful at sea – fishing isn’t always great. As a captain, it’s a big responsibility to make the boat pay off and make sure everyone gets paid.”
The crews work on a share of the profits – the owner of “Julie of Ladrum” receives 60%, and as Captain Beck receives 10.5%. For the crew there is an increasing scale, reaching a minimum of about 4%.
Jerry Percy, CEO of Nutfa, said: “We are in an existential crisis with regard to the small fleet. We are currently living on the edge of the knife’s edge because fuel prices are incredibly highand the government is not showing any signs of fuel subsidies. “