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Extracts from verbatim interviews included in Cornish Fishing and Seafood


It’s not like a nine to five office job, and that’s where with a family it’s so much harder as well, because it means especially in summer time I hardly see them at all, going to sea at 4am and coming home at 10 or 11 o’clock at night. But you have to fish that amount of time to have better money during the summer, so that when it comes to [the bad weather in] January or March you have something there as back up.

Andrew Pascoe, inshore fisherman, vice chairman of the South West Handline Fisherman’s association


I think when people go to sea, the families that are left behind, they know the risks but they don’t talk about it. They know that when their man goes to sea he may not come back. There’s always that risk. It’s not something that they like to think about and it’s probably pretty much put to the back of their mind. Furthermore, where people have been lost at sea in the past, when somebody else is lost at sea it brings it back again. The whole community feels it.

David Whitehead, Port Missioner, Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen in Newlyn


What we don’t want is to lose any more boats, what we want is a sustainable fishery. And you know so much of this is misinformation bandied about by the various green people, but it’s never been in the fisherman’s interests to catch the last of anything, because once we catch the last haddock, or the last mackerel, or the last monkfish, well it’s gone for ever. We’re not that stupid. We’ve got a very good lot of young skippers coming in, and that gives me the greatest encouragement. Young keen men who look after their fish, who know how to promote it, who know that we can’t plunder and not put anything back, so the balance is actually shifting. 

Colin Warwick, fisherman and chairman of the Duchy Fish Quota Company



Fish stocks are not declining any more but there are less than they have been. I think monkfish and soles and things like that have increased and in the last three years, I’ve never ever seen as many sea bass, and other people have said they’ve never seen as much as in the last two or three years.  Eight, nine years ago, at one stage, we just didn’t think there was any bass left it was that bad. One season at the Runnelstone it just wasn’t viable to go there and now you are seeing as many as a hundred a day, some days. And that is a complete turn around, I don’t know where they came from or whatever happened, but that’s just fishing and the way it happens sometimes.

Andrew Pascoe, inshore fisherman, vice chairman of the South West Handline Fisherman’s association


The trouble is that the [fisheries] management system ended up being so complicated and being developed by people who didn’t understand the complexities of the fisheries they were dealing with, who weren’t fishermen, who were actually either civil servants or European equivalents to civil servants. The system may well have worked in theory, but in practice and the reality of the fishing industry it never did work and never will. ... A centrally managed, unresponsive thing like Brussels just cannot manage an industry which is regionally diverse. It’s a static sort of monster managing a dynamic industry, and those two aren’t compatible. Everybody realises that now.

Paul Trebilcock, Chief Executive, Cornwall Fish Producers’ Organisation, Newlyn


Sea fish doesn’t arrive on the restaurant counter or the shop counter accredited to the person that caught it. You can find “pork from Jack Jones’ farm” and it’ll tell you the breed’s a Gloucester Old Spot, but the fish is just labelled “Cornish fish”. The label won’t say “fish from Andrew Pascoe”, or Ian Mitchell or Stefan Glinski. Why not? When they make all the effort to go out when the weather is bad and they’ve been clever enough to find a species at the beginning of the season, and take sufficient ice to sea to maintain the quality for days, they don’t get the financial benefit.

Nick Howell, fish merchant and processor, Newlyn


Today’s fishing industry is so important to Looe, it brings it life, otherwise what would we be? We’d just be a tourist town. We’re quite unique, as a village, having this vibrant fishing industry. It feels different from other fishing villages, because although some of them have a small number of boats it’s the auction here that makes Looe different.

Carole Farrar, Bluesail Fish, Looe


That’s one of the things that the Cornish fishermen have understood is to look after their fish; day boat fish, well looked after, demands a great premium and bloody well it should too. I think because we have such a history of expecting food to be cheap it’s extraordinary to people when they see how much things cost.

Rick Stein, owner of the Seafood Restaurant, Padstow


The biggest load of nonsense ever dreamt up was the philosophy of “equal access to a common resource”, that was applied to all European seas. I’ll say that in public and I don’t care who’s listening. You don’t have “equal access” to olive groves or orange tree orchards do you? It was represented as a high-minded deal, but in reality it was a way in which other European Union countries at that time legitimised grabbing huge chunks of fish stocks that had previously been British. The Heath government sacrificed the British fishing industry because they had fouled up British accession to the European Union beforehand.

Steve Farrar, fish merchant, Bluesail Fish, Looe

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