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June 16, 2023

Fisherman blog: Marc Newton: ‘A united voice on policy’

Marc Newton, a founder member and director of the CIC, runs Beer Fisheries. His father Jim works their 21ft Cygnus Bess FH 32, and Stephen Andrews skippers their 19ft Cygnus The Lady of Ennis PZ 21, out of Beer

“Our family can trace its fishing heritage back to the 1600s, and it’s great to carry on that tradition.

“If I am honest, throughout my whole life I have known, like most fishermen, that isolated coastal communities and fleets like ours are under threat. That’s not to say that government policy ever starts out to ignore the wants and needs of small-scale fishermen, or to subject them to unintended consequences of sector or geographical displacement – but it happens too often.

The Beer Fisheries boats Bess and The Lady of Ennis alongside the rest of the beach-launched fleet.

“We in industry have to take some responsibility for this, but with so many consultations and engagements running what seems like relentlessly for the past five years, it’s easy to see how so many small-scale fishermen just don’t bother. It’s overwhelming sometimes, and easier to just keep on with the day job and supporting our families.

“So when Mandy raised the idea of our four ports coming together to represent all the differing views in one organisation, and funding and staffing it – to support not just our fleets, but the communities we live and work in – I knew I had to be a part of it.

“It took some time to bring everyone together, but it’s up and running, and we are now seeing what can happen if ports and fleets can come together.

“We have a strong and vocal membership which drives our workstreams and helps to set the strategy for our chief exec to deliver and our board to oversee. Outputs dictated by the workshop last year are well underway, and we are already looking to scope further projects and workstreams to help promote our catches and get more local fish eaten locally, from hospitality to family dinner tables.

“We have such amazing seafood coming ashore, and it would be great to see more used locally – it helps reduce food miles, and also provides an opportunity for the fishermen to earn more for their catch. In the meantime, the CIC operates a transport service for its members to get the catches to South West auctions and wholesalers. This is a lifeline for our fleets, and takes the risk out of driving your own fish to market after a long day at sea.

“Our schools outreach programme will launch in May, and this along with community engagement events will, I hope, help to restore a good working knowledge of our fleets and catches to our wider communities.

“Finally, we all had a steep learning curve to get to this point, and as soon as we are able to secure funding, we will produce at pace a how-to guide case study to help others crack on and do what we have.

“Wouldn’t it be great if around our coasts more of these CICs could pop up and join together to share best practice of operations and projects, and have a united voice on policy matters?”

Meet the fleet