The Isle of Man Fleet has been under severe pressure along with local processors as a result of the Covid-10 virus.
The local catch – around 90% – goes off the island to wholesale and retail outlets in Europe and the UK. And it’s a market which is currently being decimated by Covid-19.
’We all just felt we were coming out the other side after such unsettled weather earlier in the year, with all those storms when the fleet weren’t getting out, but with this new crisis it really did escalate,’ said Nick Pledger of Port St Mary-based Island Seafare.
He went on: ’The fleet are virtually tied up at the moment. All the key markets, northern Italy, northern Spain, France and the UK are among the worst affected areas.
’There is a local market of course for scallops and queenies but it’s not nearly enough to sustain our fishing fleet. As processors, we can’t keep taking it off the boats and putting it into cold storage.’
Nick said: ’We are still delivering a small amount into France which means having to adapt to the current changes and restrictions, especially as everything has to go through the UK to get there.
’We used to deliver every day into France but we’re now down to once a week. I’m working from home and in regular contact with all my customers in France and Spain, just to keep in touch with them for when we come out the other side of this.’
It’s not just restaurants they supply which have been hit, but many retail businesses as well because all the fish counters have closed down.
Nick said: ’We’ve been trying to adapt quickly and offer our products packaged in smaller amounts, like small grab tubs – we’re just trying to offer something that’s suitable for the current market.
’We’re always trying to be as pro-active as we can but this thing is just monumental.’
Tim Croft and others from the fishing industry are in ongoing talks with DEFA and David Beard of the Manx Fish Producers Organisation (MFPO) to see what can be put in place to help the industry.