Heart being ripped out of our harbour and heritage say skippers

Whitby Fish Market''w134515a
Whitby Fish Market''w134515a

Whitby’s few remaining fishermen have warned that the “heart is being ripped out of the harbour”.

The stark claim comes as doubts are cast over the future of fish landing facilities in Whitby.

And, our own trawlermen say it is forcing them out of their home port.

Long-standing Whitby fisherman, Richard Brewer, who skippers Copious and Jon Pickard, who owns Gratitude, have come to the Whitby Gazette to highlight their plight in the hope they can keep the town’s tradition going.

But they are struggling because they say

l the ladders on the harbour walls are dangerous

l there isn’t enough ice at the fish market to cope with their catch because it has to be transported by road from Scarborough

l the chillers in the market are unreliable

l landing fees are higher in Whitby than at other ports

l investment is being placed with the shell fish market rather than white fish

l there are discrepancies over landing fees with some boats being charged but others not

Richard more often than not lands his catch in North Shields due it having better facilities for less money and Jon sails into Scarborough for the same reason.

Jon said: “I want to come home to land and I want to bring revenue back to Whitby.

“Fishing was a job that was there for me when I started fishing with Richard Brewer back in 1998.

“I have skippered my own boat for two years. I fish in local grounds and want to use Whitby as my home port.”

Richard said: “Things are being taken out of our control. We just don’t know any more what is happening in our harbour.

“It is a shame really. In the past, we have had a good rapport with the harbour committee and the borough council but now we are told things second and third hand.

“We get our facts from the Whitby Gazette, we are like mushrooms – being fed in the dark.

“We are fearful of the consequences and of what is going to happen in the future.”

It is no revelation that the fishing industry in Whitby has been on the decline over recent years for a number of reasons.

There are still a number of Whitby boats and local fishing families keen to carry on the tradition.

And the demand seems to be there as tourism continues to boom in town.

Visitors flock almost all year round now and are eager to sample Whitby’s world famous fish and chips whether it’s from the chippy, pubs or restaurants.

Jon said: “If there are tourists about when we land you shold see the reaction we get.

“People stand and watch and take photos.”

But the cost of supplying is ever increasing and the trawlermen still have to make a living and pay the bills so a lot have diversified into guard duty.

Richard said: “This may sound crude but nobody seems bothered about us anymore.

“There is this mythical idea that the windfarms will solve everything. We do a lot of work with windfarms and oil companies and Whitby is not the solution.”