Top chef warns British fishermen of a "perfect storm" this winter as new coronavirus curbs plummet demand from pubs and restaurants
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall warned many fishermen not to go out of business
- Restrictions in the hospitality industry have resulted in a nationwide decline in the demand for fish
- The price of a small bass has dropped from £ 9 per kilogram to £ 6 per kilogram
The UK fishing fleet faces a “perfect storm” this winter as demand from crowded restaurants and pubs plummets, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall warned last night.
The new wave of Covid restrictions – including the 10 p.m. curfew and ban on mixing with other households – has cut orders for fish caught by the 4,000 boats in the UK's small coastal fleet.
Typically less than 30 feet long and often owned by family businesses, these boats supply premium fish such as turbot, bass and Dover sole, as well as crab and lobster to restaurants across the UK and Europe.
Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall told The Mail on Sunday: "Fishermen and women are used to rough times, but I worry that this winter they will face a perfect storm and many may go out of business."
The UK fishing fleet faces a “perfect storm” this winter as demand from distressed restaurants and pubs plummets, warned Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (pictured) last night
His remarks come from the fact that the British Brexit negotiators are said to have proposed a "treasure deal" to French President Emmanuel Macron in which the United Kingdom will regain control of its fishing waters on January 1, 2021 – but the French are allowed to catch up their current quotas until after the 2022 presidential election.
In return, Mr Macron would ease his demands on the UK to comply with EU rules on government subsidies for businesses.
The aim is to protect the president from election damage caused by the powerful French fishing lobby.
His remarks come from the fact that the British Brexit negotiators are said to have proposed a "treasure deal" to French President Emmanuel Macron in which the United Kingdom will regain control of its fishing waters on January 1, 2021 – but the French are allowed to catch up their current quotas until after the 2022 presidential election
According to the UK, EU countries will have to apply for access to UK waters after 2022 and set quotas annually. The EU calls for a review every five years.
Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall added: “As more and more pubs and restaurants close or become restricted in their trade, fish prices begin to fall rapidly.
"The UK inshore fishing fleet is an integral part of the structure of this country and we need to make sure these small family businesses … survive this incredibly difficult time."
This map shows the extent of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters that Britain will regain control of after Brexit. Currently, the EEZ of each EU Member State is grouped into one large zone accessible to fishermen from across Europe
According to industry information, the fleet has survived the first lockdown thanks to a jump in sales by fishmongers and home deliveries.
However, the new round of Covid restrictions and economic uncertainty is having a devastating impact on prices. The price of a small bass has dropped from £ 9 per kilogram to £ 6 per kilogram.
In March, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, Rodney Anderson, a former fisheries director for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Terri Portman, a marine consultant, started Call4Fish a website where people can order supplies from people Seafood home.
"The British public kept our fishermen going," said Anderson. "But as demand falls again, there are skippers along the coast worried about how to keep their businesses going."
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