A WHITBY vicar is encouraging parishioners to eat fish on Fridays to tie in with the re-establishing of a religious tradition and at the same time help the town’s flailing fishing fleet.
Father Neil McNicholas from St Hilda’s RC Church on the West Cliff believes if the 200 registered practising Catholics in Whitby and other households in the town follow the practice, it would provide a much-needed boost for fishmongers and increase demands on the trawlers.
According to the history of the Catholic Church, Friday was set aside as a day of penance to coincide with the day Jesus died for his sins.
The law of the Church required Catholics to abstain from eating meat, or another food they usually enjoyed, on Fridays.
In the 1980s when the church relaxed rules on how the practice could be observed, it became less common but from September it is hoping to reinstate the tradition to mark the anniversary of the Pope’s visit to the UK.
Fr Neil hopes that if people buy fish instead of meat the concept of Fish Friday could catch on and have benefits for the whole town and not just the Church.
He said: “People will see it, and it’s how it is being trialled, as a return to eating fish on Fridays.
“We have around 200 households registered in the parish, but that is only part of the nominally Catholic population of the Whitby area.
“If they were to all not just give up meat on Fridays, but decide to eat fish instead, that could really boost the sale of fresh fish.
“There is also the fact that many non-Catholics were familiar with the concept of Friday being a fish day, from the practice of their Catholic friends and neighbours and used to eat fish anyway even though they didn’t have to.
“The practice might catch on again and I thought straight away of the fishing campaign.
“There will be a few more people in Whitby buying fresh fish and the fishmongers might notice a bit on an increase.”
Jenny Wale from Whitby Catch said: “We can all but wish and pray.
“It would be a good way to encourage fish sales and we would see a difference in business.”