11 August 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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I like fish. Finding it difficult to buy, though.
Adrian Leopard 330

I like fish. Finding it difficult to buy, though.

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Resolving our fishing industry difficulties is a very important long term issue.

As an island nation, one of our greatest resources is, or should I say, should be our fishing industry. There are very few countries in the world with no land borders – indeed even the UK is not one because there is a land border with Ireland. However, in principle we enjoy one of the largest coastal borders relative to our size, and certainly within Europe.

You would have thought that fishing would be an easy industry to work out but it is not.

Our fishing industry has traditionally been one of our major industries as a country and we export circa £2 billion a year worth of it, until just now that is. Since the beginning of the covid-19 crisis, exports have dropped to virtually nothing. But there is something else – although fish and chips is one of those great British meals, the British are not a nation that eats as much fish as you would expect from a country surrounded by it. Just cross the channel into France and the fish counters in the supermarkets are something to behold compared with those in the UK. In fact, it will be rare in the extreme for you to see a French-style fish counter in an English supermarket today. What you will see is relatively small, if not tiny, counters in some shops but not a lot really. Have you ever tried buying oysters in an English supermarket? And if you do manage to find some, be careful as they will not be the beautiful fresh ones you see in France.

Even in the Channel Islands, fresh fish is not always available as the fisherman find they can get a better price for their catches in Cherbourg! So if price is the issue, why is it that fish is cheaper in French supermarkets than it is in English ones? Another anomaly!

And of course fish is very good for you, except perhaps when it is surrounded by batter!

During the pandemic, there has been even less fish than usual available. There is a strange question here – if our exports have dropped through the floor, then surely there is all that lovely fish now available to the English market?

No! Why not?

It is all down to market price. Like everything the price is subject to fluctuations brought about by demand, or lack of it. Big trawlers cost a lot of money to send out to sea so they need to come back with a decent catch. The fish then goes to markets, such as Brixham in Devon, and the price is determined by the auctions at the daily bidding. If there is no demand, the price is low so we find that trawlers are just not putting to sea as they fear they cannot make a profit. It is a vicious circle. We are told that it is not only the lack of exports which keeps the price down but also the lack of demand from restaurants which are currently closed.

Does that mean people do not eat much fish at home?

Let’s look forward. We have left the European Union and now the question of whether we have a deal or not comes up again. From what I see the British people are damned if they are going to see the European Union continue to use our fishing grounds and there will certainly be ructions if Boris trades our fishing rights, notwithstanding what Mr Barnier might be insisting on. Given that fishing is potentially one of our great exports, perhaps there will be a major re-adjustment in how the market works. So far as the French are concerned, they can share fishing grounds with their nice neighbours the Irish instead of the British.

In the meanwhile, there is fish and there is still demand for fish; the trick seems to be getting the two to meet. If you like fresh fish, it is perfectly possible to get it everywhere in the country, and in many places delivered to your door. There is a very simple website which has been set up to enable the market to be kept going. Try this:

Check this site and you will be able to find a specialist fishmonger in your area which will probably deliver to you as well. I discovered one just 8 miles away! Higher consumption will encourage our fishing fleets to get back to work. Historically fishing is really important to the British. Let’s make it so for the future – a product we can produce ourselves instead of having to rely on imports.

Adrian Leopard 16-05-20

Photo Cristina Gottardi

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Company Data

Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

Address P O Box 1027, Alderney GY9 3AS

Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 05603-681921 or 01684-230360.

E Mail [email protected]

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