‘These are highly exciting times’ for fishing industry

Mike Cohen at Bridlington Harbour
Mike Cohen at Bridlington Harbour

Bridlington’s fishing industry is thriving, and an extra £800,000 of funding will only help to strengthen its position as the shellfish capital of the UK.

The substantial grant has been given to the Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

A giant blue lobster mascot helped Cllr Jane Evison and Mike Cohen launch the FLAG project

A giant blue lobster mascot helped Cllr Jane Evison and Mike Cohen launch the FLAG project

But with Brexit looming on the horizon, fishing leaders do not know how much more of this type of European money will come their way in the future.

Mike Cohen, CEO of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group, said: “The industry is extremely strong. Catches seem to climb steadily every year but stock levels are steady too.

“We have every reason to be optimistic, these are highly exciting times.

“The new marina and harbour project in Bridlington - everybody should be able to win from that.

Jamie Robertson with one of the lobsters which was on display at the launch

Jamie Robertson with one of the lobsters which was on display at the launch

“We don’t know what Brexit will bring for us, but we are in a good position.”

It is the second time in a mater of years that the area has been chosen to receive the European funding, which is designed to promote new businesses in and around Bridlington, and help existing companies to grow.

Chris Wright, chairman of Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, said: “This will create employment and only six parts of the country have been allocated money, and our region is one of only three to be chosen twice, alongside Hastings and Cornwall.”

The FLAG project was officially launched at Bridlington Spa last Friday, when the public could go along and find out about what type of ventures could be eligible for help.

The �800,000 funding will be spent over three years

The �800,000 funding will be spent over three years

Cllr Jane Evison, portfolio holder for economic investment and tourism at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, told guests: “This is particularly attractive funding because it is dedicated to our fishing industry, which has so much history.

“In the past, money has gone to some excellent and really innovative schemes and I’m sure we will have attracting businesses to help us spend it this time.

Up to October 2016, £7million of shellfish was landed in Bridlington, meaning the first 10 months generated more money than the whole of 2015 in the resort.

The port is responsible for 12% of the country’s crab and three-quarters of a million lobsters, 85% of which is exported to Europe.

The council will now be helping local businesses to build on that.

Andy Wheeler, its fisheries and coastal business advisor, said: “We will be helping to set up businesses connected to the fishing industry, but also developing exisiting businesses and promoting growth with lots of job creation.

“We have a proven track record of this in previous programmes.

“We will also be working with boat owners to get other funding, so this unlocks the door to other money as well.

“In the past we have helped to bring improvements to vessels, with health and safety features, more modern equipment and even heating systems on boats, so they can stay out at sea longer.”

The last round of funding brought about a number of high-profile projects to Bridlington.

Ray Williamson, ERYC’s regeneration and funding advisor, explained: “Last time we funded around 60 projects, that included tourism and community such as the Maritime Trail, Bridlington Seafood Festival and the Gansey Girl statue, as well as an annexe to Hornsea Museum.

“This time the focus will be on the fishing industry itself, things like improved storage and landing facilities which need improving because they are not ideal at the minute, and we can help to set up apprenticeship programmes and do a lot more work on the research side.”