Working hard to ensure success of fishing industry in Brixham

Torbay Weekly

Barry Young, managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents:

I am delighted to be invited to write a column for the Torbay Weekly and as this is the first of which will, hopefully, be many, I must first do a quick introduction.

I am managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents. The company is responsible for operating the world famous Brixham Fish Market, and providing all the services a fisherman needs as they go about their hard work.

These services include landing their catch, keeping their catch refrigerated, grading the fish, selling the fish, and also completing all the administration including paying the trawler owners and the crew the amount that they have earnt.

We also sell fuel, ice and other consumables to them.

Brixham Trawler Agents is owned by 130 shareholders, and all of these shareholders are connected to the fishing industry in some shape or form.

We try and ensure the success of the fishing industry in the South West; an industry which is so important to Brixham and Torbay.

Brixham Fish Market is the largest port in England and Wales by value of catch, and we currently employ 57 people who are all local to the Torbay area.

Our last market of 2021 was on Thursday, December 23, so I thought it was a good time to update everyone on our year so far.

What a year it has been – starting with Brexit, locking down in early January as the Covid pandemic continued, joys of coming out of lockdown and markets opening up again, and a record year.

Brexit was an eye opening start to the year but on the whole good preparation meant we got through without too many issues.

We do transport fish bought from Brixham Fish Market by EU buyers in Holland, France and Belgium directly into Europe.

There were some paperwork barriers to overcome but sales into the EU are now increasing nicely.

Also Brexit gave us an opportunity to sell fish from along the South Coast as fishermen looked for other ways to sell their fish which was previously exported direct into the EU.

In June, we began transporting fish to Brixham from as many as 15 ports along the south and south east coast, and even from Wales.

The fishermen were hit hard during the beginning of the pandemic as fish prices fell though the floor.

However, we managed to stay open, as key workers, and we still managed to sell everything that was landed even though it was for a fraction of the price.

In June 2019, we were lucky enough to have installed the first cloud-based online auction clock which was the first of its kind in the world - - which saw Brixham Fish Market leap ahead of our competitors.

Indeed, without knowing that we would face a worldwide pandemic, this has meant that all our buyers could sit in the luxury of their own homes during Covid-19 and buy their fish.

As we came out of lockdown and restrictions were lifted, fish prices began to rise.

As the hospitality trade and Europe opened up, we saw record fish prices for a short time but these high prices have remained until now.

We also saw some high volumes of fish which meant we were struggling for space in the market.

This is proving to be very challenging for us and our staff.

We have an amazing team here at Brixham Trawler Agents and they have all worked extremely hard in some very difficult times.

We are open 24 hours a day and all the staff have really pulled out all the stops.

I am hoping for another successful year in 2022 and I am pleased to announce that we have already made some promotions from within the company.

The most significant of these is to promote Luke Netherton to general manager. Luke is a local Brixham lad who has worked for the business for over 15 years, working his way up through the ranks.

This makes me especially proud to see as this is exactly what I have done, and it is so good see to a local business supporting local people and their families.

A final 'thank you' to all our trawler owners and their crews, all the buyers, and our staff, and I wish you all a very prosperous 2022.