The CFPO said on their website:
“Following a challenging and turbulent week for fishermen, markets and merchants across the region in relation to Covid-19, the CFPO has today (Friday 20 March) again liaised with SWFPO and Interfish FPO along with local markets (Newlyn, Plymouth and Brixham) about the ongoing challenges of selling fish.
“It won’t be a surprise but still worth stating clearly that there remains a great deal of uncertainty and in reality, that uncertainty is likely to continue.
“As the week has progressed market demand did fall across the board with demand and price for fish, in particular whitefish fragile (shellfish merchants (crab & lobster) have almost entirely ceased taking any shellfish). Some prime fish including dover sole did hold in terms of price but this should not be seen as assured or long term.
“The behaviour and efforts of vessels, markets and buyers has meant that although prices are depressed fish has been sold and efforts to stimulate demand and keep supply chains open will continue. Shellfish markets have come to an almost complete halt.
“To be clear Newlyn, Plymouth and Brixham markets remain open and will be using their best endeavours, supported by buyers/merchants, to continue to sell fish. This will be the case until you hear from them directly.
“There are ongoing worries about what species might be most vulnerable to major demand and/or price drop -but again at this stage the advice is that emphasis should be on lower volumes and higher quality as a general approach.
“A continuation of shorter trips is considered to be a sensible approach rather than risking higher volumes from longer trips that may be more difficult to sell -obviously where possible/practical.
“Communication remains absolutely essential so please speak to your respective market/auctioneer/buyer about what you are catching and when you are intending to land to ensure they can spread landings. Market stability is more likely to be secured from shorter trips and staggered landings.
“We are going to keep in close liaison with other SW POs and markets on an ongoing basis and will endeavour to keep you informed as more information emerges.
“Discussions have begun with DEFRA regarding a support package for fishermen but this is in early stages and almost certainly won’t be as quick a fix as we would like or indeed need. Following a telephone conference on Thursday, it has been agreed to work on a support package in four key areas:
- The development of alternative markets and alternative routes to market. Government has a role in helping with shift/increase new demand in the domestic market
- Direct and indirect financial support. The immediate task is to understand the content of the Chancellor’s £350 billion support package, to understand to what extent this will be relevant and of use to the fishing sector; and to identify where additional support will be required
- Regulatory changes: the group is to work on reducing regulatory burdens where these impede an adequate response to the crisis
- Development of an adaptive joint industry/government approach to the different aspects of the crisis as they evolve
“A wide range of stakeholders from across the country and across supply chain brought their different concerns and insights into the discussion. A smaller, more focused group will be required to work up proposals.
“We underlined that given the poor start to the year weather wise many parts of the fleet are entering this crisis with very little resilience/money in the bank, therefore measure must be genuine and include both real money and regulatory considerations and must be developed and delivered urgently.
“We are going to keep in close liaison with NFFO, UKAFPO & other POs and other relevant bodies on an ongoing basis and will endeavour to keep you informed as more information emerges.”