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Plymouth has a long fishing tradition, with over 80 commercial species landed in the area here. Plymouth Fish Market is a crucial element of the regional fishing industry and is vital for the sustainability of some of the smaller fishing communities who send their catch through the Market. The sector has started to show signs of recovery, but is a long way from pre-Covid19.

More than 80% of output depends on international markets. The Government provided an intervention around controlling price by securing the price of fish that was previously sold to European markets, to offset the impact of this market collapse; this European demand was of a different form than replacement demand from the UK (UK end-users require processed, filletted fish, as opposed to EU restaurants taking whole fish, so pressure on processes).

A flexible pot of funding around innovation will be needed to enable bespoke new solutions in supporting the sector (building on Call4Fish) and helping this sector stay viable. 

397 vessels
(14% of England fleet)
750 fishers
tonnes landed in Plymouth 2019
(8.5% of all England)
Opportunities/Challenges to address
  • The fishing industry is hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic.  Foreign markets collapsed, supermarkets stopped selling fresh fish, the supply chain was severely disrupted, some auction houses closed, a good number of the medium sized processors/buyers mothballed their businesses and fish prices dropped dramatically and some areas such as Shellfish saw their market collapse

  • Awaiting outcome of Brexit fishery negotiations 

  • Vulnerable to international trade as more than 80% of output depends on international markets 

  • Vulnerable to demand and impact seen by decrease in tourism/hospitality 

  • Demand for merchants in larger scale from restaurants now replaced by end-user, smaller quantity demand

  • Angling charters that are solely passenger vessels and don't sell fish to the market are falling through the gaps on Government support.

  • Assess options for remodelling of Plymouth Fish Quay and Market

  • Promote a strengthened local and regional supply chain which supports the whole chain including the processors and merchants

  • Minimum standards of safety and wellbeing for workers on fishing vessels as social distancing for crew on smaller vessels a distinct challenge 

  • Enabling Plymouth to derive optimum benefit from fishing opportunities at the end of the Transition Period

Identified courses of action

Complete fish quay feasibility study, including consultation with sector

Outcome: Ready to bid for funding for build when it becomes available

Continue to support Call4Fish

Outcome: Stable route to market should another lockdown occur and/or demand falls after EU transition period

Supporting the sector to access public and other local bulk procurement contracts

Outcome: Drive up demand for local product, reduction in air miles. Investigate Flash freezing facility .

Support ILO188 training

Outcome: Ensure minimum standards of safety and wellbeing at sea

Review the quota and other fishing opportunity needs of the vessels landing to Plymouth and appraise the potential gains and risks arising when the UK leaves the CFP

Outcome: Ready to respond to Government consultation on quota

Make representations to the UK Government on behalf of Plymouth and its fishing industry, and stand ready to respond to consultation exercises launched by the Government

Outcome: Plymouth receives its fair share of quota allocation, balancing economic and environmental benefits

Successes/Results to date
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Stage 1 of Fish Quay Feasibility Study completed and Stage 2 in progress