West fishing industry's boost to the economy
The Westcountry fishing industry – vital to the region’s economy – enjoyed another successful year with the value of landings increasing at both large and small ports in 2012, according to official figures.
Brixham saw the largest value catch landed by the UK fleet compared to other ports in England with 15,600 tonnes of fish worth £26.9 million in 2012 – up from £26.1 million in 2011.
Latest figures released by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) also showed Plymouth saw the largest quantity of fish landed out of all ports in England.
In all, 15,748 tonnes of fish were put ashore in the city last year worth £16.1 million – £1.9 million more than in 2011.
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Newlyn, the busiest UK administration port for fishing vessels with 610 boats, however saw the value of its fish fall from £22 million in 2011 to £20.2 million last year, even though tonnage rose from 10,309 to 10,741. It’s thought the change could be down to a number of vessels switching from landing at Newlyn to Plymouth and Brixham during the year.
Jim Portus, the chief executive of the South Western Fish Producers’ Organisation, said the rise in business combined with an increase in fish populations boded well for the future.
He said: “2012 was a good year, 2013 has already been pretty good and I am optimistic for next year.
“The prize quota fish for everyone is Dover sole because of the high price per kilo it fetches.
“But turbot and brill, which are not on quotas, command a similar price and that has been good for our three major ports.”
Overall, UK vessels landed 627,000 tonnes of sea fish, including shellfish, into the UK and abroad with a value of £770 million – a 5% increase in quantity but a 7% decrease in value compared with 2011.
The region’s smaller fishing communities bucked that trend with fish worth a total of £11.6 million landed at Teignmouth, Salcombe, Ilfracombe, Looe, Mevagissey and Weymouth.
Looe recorded landings rise by £200,000 to £2.4 million, Ilfracombe by £200,00 to £1.8 million and Salcombe £100,000 to £2.1 million.
Figures for the other ports – Mevagissey (£2.2 million), Teignmouth (£0.6 million) and Weymouth (£2.5 million) – remained the same.
Dave Bond has fished out of Looe, on Cornwall’s south coast, for more than 30 years and is chairman of the South West Handline Association.
He said last year had been “exceptional” for lemon sole and “very good” for cuttlefish and squid.
“Looe is a high quality market with day-caught fish and people have responded to that,” he said yesterday.
“The number of restaurants has taken off because of television and they have recognised where they want to source their fish.”