Gavin Ziemann works his 20ft Kingfisher Ventura out of Axmouth. A member of the new CIC, he has been an active member of the Axmouth fishermen’s association for a number of years
“It is an incredibly exciting time for us. We have been talking about getting together with other ports and seeking to get a seat at the table, and getting small-scale fishermen’s views heard more widely, for years – but I am not sure any of us ever thought we would get to where we are now.
Axmouth fisherman Gavin Ziemann.
“It is a testament to Mandy’s driving force, and all the fishermen coming together from across the four ports, that has made this a reality, and I could not be prouder of everyone’s efforts.
“I am particularly excited to be working on the schools outreach programme. With support from the MMO FaSS fund we are designing and delivering a pilot programme to 25 schools across the region for Key Stage 2 – Years 4 through 6.
“When I was young, I would leave the house at 5.30am and not be home before 7pm. Fishermen would take us kids out for a trip in those days, and let us help with landing, mending and maintenance – but you wouldn’t see this happen due to health and safety nowadays, and that is a shame. It is in part where my love of the sea and fishing came from.
The Axmouth vessel owners were already used to collective working through their local association, successfully introducing a shared ‘lobster hotel’ that has made storage and local sales of live shellfish much more straightforward.
“We are mindful of this, and so we hope that going into schools and teaching young people about the life and work of a fishermen, as well as the amazing species we have in our local waters, will help bridge that knowledge gap that has been widening for many years now.
“The local fishing fleets are important for all our coastal communities, not just because of the food source it provides and the direct jobs, but because of its huge contribution to tourism in our area – but we have to find new and innovative ways to encourage kids off their phones and into the ports, and we hope this schools outreach will help with that.
“Ironically, the lockdowns caused by Covid brought our fishing communities back together like in the old days, with fishermen supporting their isolated communities with a great supply of fresh fish on the quays, and the locals coming out and supporting us when markets were weak and supply chains closed to us.
“The world is back at work now, but it demonstrated that the strong bonds between fleet and community remain, and we need to embrace that – and our schools outreach and community engagement will all help to do that, we hope.”