WAMU 88.5 : Global Perspective

Global Perspective: Who Says I Can't...Fish?

Wed., April 27 at 9 p.m. on WAMU 88.5 and 88.3 Ocean City; Thur., April 28 at 12 p.m.

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Over the last 10 – 15 years, a third of Britain's commercial fishermen have left the industry.

A decade ago, European fish stocks appeared to be in irretrievable decline. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union brought in quotas to protect white fish in the hope of returning to sustainable numbers. But the constantly shifting regulation has bamboozled and maddened British fishermen like Fred Normandale who end up throwing back a lot of what they catch because it exceeds their quota.


Fred Normandale fishes out of the small town of Scarborough. He comes from generations of fishermen, and has built up a business to own a handful of small trawlers. As a recent sea shanty about Scarborough fishermen has it "the North Sea’s the place where we dig for our gold."

But gold isn’t easy to come by. Anxiety over mounting debts on the repayment of large loans taken out in more prosperous times to refit his boats keeps Fred awake at night. 

Scarborough has only 8 remaining commercial fishing boats, 4 of them under 10 meters long, and two of them have moved up from the nearby port of Bridlington which can no longer support the industry. Scarborough's vital infrastructure for the remaining fishermen is on the brink of collapse.   

The European Union's Common Fisheries Policy which regulates British waters is in the process of being updated. Will it acknowledge the improved fish stock levels in the North Sea which the fishermen say they are encountering, find a solution to the enormous waste, and will it be in time for fishermen like Fred Normandale?

This documentary was presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Kate Howells for the BBC World Service.


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