Whitby Fish Market will definitely be open for the next three years – but after that the future is uncertain.
Manager Shaun Wood said he was committed to the venture for the next three years due to grant rulings and an agreement he has formed with the borough council.
But he said after that period he said “I don’t know what will happen in three years’ time” because last year the fish market lost money.
He told the Gazette this week: “Whitby Fish Market is not going to close – end of.
“I can guarantee this to Whitby people and Whitby fishermen for the next three years. There is no contract or handshake but it is an agreement I made with the council. After three years I can do what I want. I will promise Whitby fishermen that if the day comes I choose to leave because it is not financially viable it will not be done over-night.
“It will be at an appropriate time that suits them and the council.”
While there is no formal agreement with the council Mr Wood said he was bound by the terms of a grant from the Marine Management Organisation.
The grant from them enabled him to buy an ice machine, scales and a forklift to keep the market running.
It is for a period of six years and if he was to cease trading before that time he would have to pay it back.
His comments come in response to Whitby’s trawlermen saying last week that they feared for the future of Whitby’s fishing industry. They told the Gazette that they were having to land their catch at other ports due to lack of ice at Whitby and detiorating facilities.
Mr Wood said he gets more business from smaller cobles than big fishing boats – the majority of which do guard duty instead. He also transports ice by road from his other business on Scarborough pier to the Whitby facility in response to requests from skippers who are going to be landing in Whitby.
But, he says, the number of landings have decreased which does not help. He added: “Within the last financial year Whitby Fish Sales lost money.
“I gave it 100% but unfortunately we lost money. Perhaps if the boats landed here more we wouldn’t have lost money and that helps.”