Tweets from the deep aim to dispell fishing myths
A trawlerman is to use the net to send tweets from the deep in a bid to show the harsh reality of life on a fishing boat.
David Warwick, who fishes out of Plymouth, said the messages will not only show a glimpse of his life, they will also help dispel industry’s negative reputation.
He said that fishermen were often wrongly portrayed as villains seeking to extract every fish from the sea - when the truth was that their livelihood, and that of their children, relied on ensuring a future of healthy, sustainable stocks.
“Villages and communities up and down the British coast rely on fishermen, as providers of food and income,” he said.
“To be tarred as pillagers that don’t care about the future of fishing is ridiculous.
“Most of us are second or third generation, if not more, and we fish sensitively and sustainably to ensure the future of our business.
“I have a two year old son that I hope will have the opportunity to make his living from the sea if that’s what he chooses, and that’s what my fishing colleagues and I are working hard to ensure.”
The initiative, dubbed Tweets from the Deep and organised by the National Federation of Fishermans Organisations (NFFO), will take place on Wednesday, 14 August during National Fishing Month to raise awareness of the often dangerous daily tasks fishermen perform to put food on the nation’s plate.
Mr Warwick decided to be the initiative’s tweeting voice for the Westcountry after a Looe based fisherman who was set to take part was forced to withdraw.
Since the day he left school more than 25-years-ago, Mr Warwick has earned a living as a commercial fisherman.
Having built his own trawler he set up a commercial fishing business with his father in 1996 and today he sails from Plymouth in his 10.5m trawler Valhalla, catching mixed species including cod and haddock as well as whiting and lemon sole.
His working day starts at 3am to sail out to fishing grounds up to 20 miles of the Cornish coast and often doesn’t return until 7pm at night.
In summer, the crew can be out for up to 16 hours, six days a week.
On a good day they could net up to £2,000 of fish, but equally can be forced home empty handed if the weather is poor or if a net breaks.
He said it was this pressure which was poorly understood by the general public.
According to the most recent figures available, in 2011, the UK’s 6,444 fishing vessels landed 600,000 tonnes of fish, including shellfish, with a value of £828 million. There are around 12,400 fishermen, with the industry providing 14,331 full time jobs.
Fish consumption has risen steadily since the 1970s, with four out of five households in the UK eating seafood at least once a month.
However, despite huge advancements in technology, fishing in the UK remains a dangerous profession and in 2011, 24 vessels were shipwrecked, while eight fishermen lost their lives.
Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, said Tweets from the Deep should prove an eye opening experience for many
“The fishing industry has made amazing advances over the last ten years and sustainability is now at the heart of the way it operates.
“Despite this our hard working fishermen are too often portrayed as the pariahs of the sea.
“We are therefore undertaking this initiative with David to hopefully dispel some of these myths and show how our fishermen deliver an important, sustainable, traceable and healthy food source.
“We hope this event will go some way to showing the hardships fishermen undergo and reinstate them to where they belong, as heroes of the seas.”
*to follow Tweets from the Deep see #FishTales.