The British fishing industry could be “wiped out” because of the coronavirus outbreak keeping fishermen from selling their products to the wider public. The British and Scottish Governments have both issued guidance and rolled out new policies in a bid to help the fishing industry survive the crisis but fishermen have warned their policies may not be enough. Scottish trawler Alistair Sinclair told the Today programme: “We don’t really know what is ahead of us.
“There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We may get to the point where boats are of little value.
“Everything we’ve worked for through our life to get where we are today could be erased like rubber on a piece of pencil and paper.”
Fishing communities across the UK have already faced years of uncertainty and crisis because of the strict European Union regulations limiting the number of catch fishermen are allowed to get as well as granting EU vessels access to British waters.
Kenny McNab from Tarbert admitted to feeling “really concerned” about the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the industry.
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UK fisheries could be “erased” because of the coronavirus pandemic, fishermen have warned
British fisheries have already been facing pressure because of Brexit trade demands from the EU
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Speaking to the Today programme, Mr McNab said: “Really concerned about it.
“It’s a big part of this village, the whole village was built on fishing – there was massive herring fishing hundreds of years ago and if there are no boats, it’s a big hit.
“It’s probably costing us, at the moment, between wages, insurance, harbour dues, around £10,000 a month to keep things going.
“Obviously, we can’t carry on.”
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Fishermen have long lamented the limits EU regulations have imposed on UK fishing communities
The Scottish Government rolled out a financial package in March aimed at helping the fishing industry cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
After complaints about the lack of support for bigger vessels, Edinburgh insisted they will continue to review potential policies to ensure they receive the support they require.
The British Government has been urged to also work on a series of packages aimed directly at helping fishing communities.
The warning about the fate of the British fishing industry has come after five EU super trawlers entering British waters to haul massive amounts of fish.
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The coronavirus pandemic brought the UK to a standstill as over 85,000 people have been struck with the virus
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Greenpeace UK said five large trawlers, three from the Netherlands and two from France, have been catching fish off the coast of Scotland every day after setting off towards the UK after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown.
Greenpeace UK spokesman Chris Thorne said: “With the vast majority of the UK’s local and more sustainable fishing fleet stuck at port, unable to work because of a collapse in demand, these destructive supertrawlers are still plundering fish in UK waters.
“The crisis has left the UK’s fishing communities high and dry, but in the meantime industrial fishing continues with business as usual.”
The £989 million-a-year fishing industry in the UK widely relies on exports, with as much as 70 per cent of its annual catch regularly sold off to European and Asian markets
But the pandemic brought the global hospitality business to its knees and sales of prime British fish and shellfish across the world have taken a dramatic blow as a consequence.