Paul Trebilcock, the Chief Executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) has written to several Members of Parliament to highlight the issues currently facing the fishing industry in Cornwall.
Mr Trebilcock wrote a letter to Secretary of State George Eustice and all Cornish MPs yesterday, asking for a specific support package from DEFRA for fishermen suffering financially as a result of Covid-19.
In the letter Mr Trebilcock wrote “As an MP who has shown active support for the fishing industry, I’m writing to bring a critical issue to your attention at this extremely challenging time for our sector – here in Cornwall, and UK-wide.”
He asked the Minister to address the issue of aid for fishermen in England as soon as it is possible. He continued “The key message for us is simple: England is being left behind in terms of bespoke support for fishermen. Support packages have been provided by all of the Devolved Administrations (DAs) for their respective fishing fleets – offering much-needed security for fishermen in Scotland, N. Ireland and Wales. DEFRA is behind the curve, leaving English – and our Cornish – fishermen facing the economic onslaught of Coronavirus without a safety net. When will this be addressed?
“The UK Government’s generous, but generic, support packages for the employed and self-employed thus far fail to recognise the unique conditions of many of our fishermen. With the DAs acknowledging this and acting swiftly, fishermen across England are losing confidence in the Government as they await similar recognition.”
Mr Trebilcock asked the Minister and MPs to act before the benefits of Brexit are lost to the coronavirus crisis. He said “The very real short-term pain of coronavirus impacts on the Cornish fishing industry must not be allowed to erode our ability to reap the rewards of our withdrawal from the EU – support to bolster the industry through this time will be critical in positioning us to maximise benefits to fishing communities once the pandemic is over.”
The letter also asks that the opportunity of newly found domestic and local markets be further developed after the crisis.
“As UK consumers look for new avenues to fresh, healthy food – there is an opportunity to stimulate some demand in the domestic market through direct sales to households (see the excellent work of Seafood Cornwall #FishToYourDoor campaign). As a foothold in securing a taste at home for UK-caught, local fish species, this is not to be ignored. The industry must be shored up in order to capitalise on this in future, as we leave the EU.
Mr Trebilcock finished by saying “Your support and assistance would be very much appreciated.”