EMULATE II chose to land its catch in North Shields last Friday after learning that there was no demand in Whitby for locally-caught fish.
Now the vessel’s skipper is saying that if Whitby residents want to save their fleet, local businesses need to support their local fishermen by insisting on locally-caught produce.
Howard Locker, who has been fishing out of the port for 40 years, said the future is looking bleak for Whitby’s industry as there isn’t the demand to match the amount the fisherman are able to supply.
He said: “Whitby as a fishing port is collapsing.
“There used to be 20 boats out of Whitby, but it’s a good job now that there isn’t a fleet of that size as they wouldn’t be able to handle it.
“If you had five boats landing daily we wouldn’t get a good price because the infrastructure is slowly vanishing.
“There isn’t the merchants there on a morning, there’s three or four lads stood around hundreds of boxes of fish.”
However, Mr Locker said that as a businessman he does not blame local establishments who choose to order produce in from other ports, such as North Shields, Peterhead or Grimsby, as they also have businesses to run and therefore need a steady supply, which Whitby can not guarantee.
With no merchants at the Whitby market, the fishermen are therefore choosing to land their catch elsewhere, where competitive bidding means they can receive a higher price for their catch.
It was for this reason that Mr Locker chose to steam to North Shields last Friday.
He added: “In Whitby last Tuesday we landed top quality fish, you can’t get any better, but we got a very poor market due to what they said was a lot of fish in Scotland and a lot of imports.
“There was no demand, so the market collapsed.
“But we went back to sea on Tuesday and we were on the good fishing so I made enquiries about landing in Whitby again and there was very little interest, so I decided to go to Shields.
“It took us eight hours to steam there and five hours to get home, because of the weather conditions, but it was a brilliant market.
“We got a lot better prices and so we still made a profit, which we wouldn’t have done if we landed in Whitby.”