I ask are fishers independent? "They can be, when you buy a fishing boat, you buy it with a license, the license is what the money represents. And there are only so many of those that are released. Sometimes the bigger boats are owned by a big company, and the skipper would then work for the said company".
About ten years ago some fishermen got done 3 million pounds for black market fish (selling un-quoted fish). I ask does that mean they caught it and didn’t register them? Nathan explains "basically instead of chucking it away or disregarding it, they were bringing it ashore, in one way yes it is illegal because the quotas are there (EU rules), but the other side of it is that you are just going to throw it away anyway".
The fishing industry is a grey area. Brexit gave fishermen the idea that they can control their waters again (we now know that not to be true), for example, last year Nathan tells me "there was a big shoal of tuna that run through, bluefin. This never used to be unusual, in the old days there was a lot, but today this was quite unusual. You are talking a shoal that is probably worth in the region of £400,000 to £500,000. Currently, the local and British fishermen cannot fish it. They have no quota for it. Tuna specifically in this area". However all the Spanish and foreign fishermen do have the quota, and with the modern technology letting fishers follow shoals they just followed the fish through the Cornish waters, didn't touch them, and as soon as the fish left those waters, they caught them all.
Now it's fair to me, if I had the quota for the tuna and the ability to stalk them I would. But given such an opportunity, where does the decision lie? If allowance is the reason, sustainability and ethical ideas could lead to answers to this, but when the tuna can be followed and then fished by others, what is the point?
The balance has to be right. It must be gutting for the local fishermen. The boats that caught the tuna, the big boats, they took them all. The smaller local boats would have taken ten fish each maybe. However, if we caught everything then soon the tuna will have gone from always running through, down to sometimes, and soon enough, never. The system seems flawed and local fisherman thrown overboard.
Part 2 out in our next print editon, summer 2019.