Vagaries of the fishing industry

Torbay Weekly

Well, it has been a stormy week and we probably have never seen three storms like it, all one after the other.

First, Storm Dudley, which was bad but still allowed bigger beam trawlers out and we still had a £1mn week last week (ending 18 Feb). Then, along came Storm Eunice, which blew all boats in over weekend of 19 and 20 Feb, so there were no fish in the early part of this week to sell on the auction at all.

And finally, Storm Franklin seemed not quite so bad but the change in wind direction is keeping medium-size and smaller boats in all this week.

Therefore, this has been the quietest week for many years and shows how unpredictable the fishing industry can be. Nobody has made any money, from the fishermen themselves to the buyers, and all the local trades people. One thing we cannot control is the weather!

Before the storms, the fish prices were very good for this time of year, but we are expecting them to be even higher when we are able to have some fish to sell once more!

This is also the time of year when many of the beam trawlers head over to the Bristol Channel to catch dover sole. Dovers are our “crown jewels” and fetch a very good price on the auction. Mainly bought by European customers, they will fetch in the region of £16 per kg.

Dover sole are graded by our grading machine into 10 different sizes, Grade 1 being the biggest and 10 being the smallest. On busy evenings, the grader can weigh and grade approximately 200 fish per minute. The grader is also used for plaice, turbot, monk, and other varieties of sole.

We had an interesting visitor last week. Three directors from Maaskant ship builders in Holland paid Brixham a visit as they are keen to look at an investment in the South West. With restrictions on UK vessels going into Europe, they are looking to expand into the UK fishing sector, and also looking to build a ship yard to repair UK fishing boats, so they don’t have to steam all the way to Holland. It is great that they are thinking of Brixham and it became apparent that they would be employing local trades people as the expertise is already here.

Finally, BTA are always looking to help our local community and we are proud to sponsor many local youth sporting clubs. This week, we have also made sizable donations to Rowcroft for their South Devon monopoly fundraiser, to the Torbay RNLI for their amazing Kilimanjaro Challenge, and committed to the Seafood Coast experience, which will be back up and running this year, showing off all that Torbay has to offer.