Young people often struggle to see fishing as a viable career, and in the past, there has been little educational or financial support for those that do.
In 2019, for the first time in UK fishing, the CFPO put young people at the heart of decision making here in Cornwall and developed a formal Youth Board. The Board is made up of young fishermen, young people with an interest in the industry, and a host of maritime experts brought together to tackle the growing challenge of recruiting youth into the fishing industry.
The Youth Board has been working with the CFPO to develop programmes of work to attract new people to the industry and improve retention for Cornish fishing. They help with ideas, provide honest and relevant feedback, and help the CFPO find the best ways to provide new opportunities for young entrants.
“We have set up the Youth Board to offer a platform for the young fishermen’s ‘voice’ because we believe they can bring a different perspective to many of the challenges the industry is facing. That different perspective and youthful enthusiasm can provide strategic guidance, positive thinking, and can help shape the industry they will hopefully be working in, into the future.” CFPO CEO Chris Ranford
The Youth Board provides fresh perspectives about how to retain new, young entrants in the industry, and innovative ideas about designing informative materials to reach a younger audience. One of the biggest successes of the Youth Board to date has been the development of a new fishing apprenticeship programme, which will begin in early 2022 and will act as a clear entry point for young people to begin a fishing career.
Recruitment is ongoing for the Youth Board and the CFPO is encouraging any young people living and fishing in Cornwall to get in touch. You don’t have to be a CFPO member to be a part of the Board. Contact: email@example.com
Aidan finished college in June 2018 but had been fishing during summer holidays for years before.
He went to college to study marine engineering so he could use his skills when out fishing. He also thought it would be useful when he had his own boat with an engine that might need fixing.
Aidan found his studies useful, continuing to fish on the odd days with his dad and uncle, but his heart wasn’t in it. As soon as he finished his course he was back on the water!
Aidan’s advice to a young person looking to start out in the industry: 'Start down the harbourside, ask around and go to places like Seafood Cornwall Training as that’s where I did my ticket to get qualified - it’s training on the ground.'
'I am part of the youth board because I think it’s important to make youngsters aware of the opportunities within the industry. I think having a new generation will allow the industry to flourish again.'
Tom was fishing as soon as his mum let him out on the water! At six years old he was out having fun on boats in Cornwall handlining for mackerel and potting for shrimps in Newlyn, and at twelve he was allowed to skipper his own small boat where he would fish after school and in the summer holidays for mackerel.
Tom is from a fishing family and has always loved being on his Dad’s boat, the Lyonesse. After completing his A-levels Tom obtained a 1st class honours degree in Chemistry from Cardiff University. After finishing, Tom got straight back on the water in Cornwall as he knew he wanted a career as a fisherman.
'I am a young, keen fisherman myself and I want to try and get more people interested in a career in fishing. Boats all around the nation are struggling for crew, and to keep the industry going we need an influx of young people who want the job. Fishing is not always seen as a desirable career, I want to help change that negative outlook and show people that it is a great job with a promising future.'
James has been working as a fisherman and an RNLI lifeboat volunteer for ten years, but has been around boats since he was little.
He wanted to get into fishing as soon as he finished school but his family persuaded him to go to college to study marine engineering. Like all our youth board members, fishing was never put on the table as a viable career and James was the only one in his whole school that turned to fishing after college.
Once college ended James wanted to get out on fishing boats to get some experience. His great grandfather was a fisherman but neither his dad nor granddad were, so he had to spend a lot of time hanging around the harbour asking to work as crew on other boats. It was worth it, he says!
'I wanted to join the youth board because I’m very keen to help in anyway I can to help get more young people into the industry. Also there’s a big difference between the older generation looking back at the years gone by and the younger generation looking forward to the years we have to come.'
Ben has been fishing since he left school and always dreamt of doing it as a career. His dad, however, who is a fisherman, wanted a different life for him. Ben ended up in the armed forces, climbing the ranks as an engineer to a position where he could take any warship to sea as an engineering officer.
After 12 years in the navy, Ben felt like it was time to hang up his uniform and reach for his oilskins for good. He used the money he had saved up from the navy to buy a fishing boat and a fishing gear business.
‘There’s a lack of young people in the industry, in general, so we need them to have their own boats and be ready to take over the bigger boats. Young people need more than just a certificate, they need structure and a framework. ‘That’s why I said I would be on the Board, I don’t need crew, I just want to support the industry.'
Chris has been fishing out of Mevagissey for nine years but, like many fishermen from fishing families, he was out on the water as soon as he could walk!
Chris went straight from school to college and then on to university to study Geology, but the ocean called him back to Cornwall as he loved the lifestyle and knew it could provide a good life for him.
'Fishing is a good career for me because I like the freedom, I like not being in a 9 to 5 job and I love the camaraderie that comes with the industry. Chris’ advice to a young person looking to start out in the industry: 'Get lots of experience on lots of different boats. Fishing is so different on big boats and little boats so try and get on as many as you can and see what you like.'
'I wanted to be part of the Youth Board to offer advice and guidance to the young people coming into the industry.'
Brett has been fishing commercially on and off since he was 20 but he always takes every opportunity he can to get back to fishing. He’s had a diverse range of work since finishing college, including skippering yachts in exotic places and working offshore at a wind farm.
'Fishing is a good career for me because there’s no other job quite like it. And we’re only small-scale so we’re home everyday - it is such a nice way of life! In Cadgwith we are fishing the same way as generations did before us, it’s sustainable and that’s important.'
'I wanted to be part of the Youth Board because I want to get more youngsters involved in fishing. If you look down at the cove, you see a few of the fishermen’s young sons coming in, but that’s it. No one new and in around ten years time a lot of the men will be retiring. ‘The future is bright for it, but we need to get people trained up and skipper their own boat where you can make some money.'
Buck has been fishing since he left school when he was just 14. He always knew school wasn’t for him so was a bit of a troublemaker during lessons.
'Fishing is a good career for me because I enjoy being at sea. I have known no different, but I don’t want to. It’s a way of life. Some days are amazing - you get a good catch and the sun has been shining all day. And you think: Who would want anything else? It’s paradise and you get paid for doing it.'
Bucks' advice to a young person looking to start out in the industry: 'Try and find a day boat that will take you out. Chuck yourself into it. Freddie suffered really badly from seasickness and he’s cracked it now, but it took him a while. It can be a rocky road if you have never been on a boat but you need to try it!'
'I wanted to be part of the Youth Board for Freddie. The Board needs a young person’s opinion and his input is really valuable. He is our future and his fresh opinion is everything.'
Will has been fishing since 2005 but has grown up around the industry. He went to college but packed it in after a couple of months as he knew he was always going to be a fisherman. Even in the evenings after school, Will used to ring net after school with David Pascoe (owner and skipper of Serine Dawn). Now, he skippers a vessel in the same fishery.
Will’s advice to a young person looking to start out in the industry: 'Take the bull by the horns and go for it, but be prepared for some sacrifice. It’s all about the lifestyle: if you can take to the lifestyle you will love it. You’ve got the big boats, small boats, potting, handlining - there’s so many different sides to it. One job is not the same.'
‘I wanted to be part of the Youth Board because there’s an issue that needs addressing and it’s in every bit of our generation’s interest. I would hate to see the industry fail and there’s potential for that to happen. As a career, it doesn’t get enough attention and I want to change that - as I don't think you can get any better than this!'