Aug 12th, 2022
5 mins

Seafish, the industry body for seafood has claimed that fuel prices were now close to £1 on average at ports, which is beyond what was predicted as the worst-case scenario in April (90p per litre, all tax excluded), has led to some vessels being tied up and crews walking away.

According to The Grocer, concerns for the high fuel prices were echoed by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations’ (NFFO) chairman, Paul Gilson, who stated that “the price has, for several weeks, been hovering around the point where it becomes no longer viable to go to sea because earnings no longer cover costs – of which fuel is the most significant component.”

Gilson also added “as price takers, rather than price makers, cannot, unlike other sectors, simply pass on higher fuel costs to the consumers.”

The CEO of NFFO, Barrie Deas, explained that the UK was not yet seeing wide-scale tie-ups of boats yet, but this could still become a problem without further support for the sector, which will lead to a wider impact on fresh fish supply in the UK,

There have also been fears of labour losses and shortages of crews on boats due to the profit margins being low, in addition to a reduction in the share of fish haul profit that the crews depend on, to supplement their basic pay.

Sarah Wilson, co-founder of The Gentleman Fishmonger at Doncaster Fish Market, said that the impact on prices depended on the size of boats. Smaller boats were feeling less of an impact as they tended to stay closer to shore, but this sector only accounted for 3%-4% of what the fishmonger sold. Meanwhile, larger boats and companies were managing to continue to turn profits, but mid-size boats were being hit the hardest, which was “heart-breaking”, she added.

A Seafish spokeswoman echoed Wilsons comments, explaining the certain species and fleets were more at risk than others, such as scallop dredgers, beam trawlers and nephrops trawlers which use active fishing gears.

These issues had caused margins to shift downwards, meaning previously expensive, wild caught local varieties were becoming comparatively affordable. “We are now paying 40% cost above where salmon was in November last year,” which has made fish like Scarborough wild sea trout “now affordable in relation to the farmed product but they only have so much quota so you can’t feed the population on it”, she warned.

The Gentleman Fishmonger is having to think creatively to find ways to save costs, such as reducing the speed of their vans by 10mph to save fuel. They are also working together with many other fishmongers to do pick ups to save time and fuel.



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