The Seafarers UK Charity Steps Up Support for UK Fishermen and their Coastal Communities

July 8, 2019

Seafarers Awareness Week runs from Monday 8 July to 14 July (Sea Sunday)

Seafarers UK is a charity that for more than one hundred years has been supporting men and women who work at sea, when times are hard, including their families and dependents.

Seafarers Awareness Week was started by the Seafarers UK charity in 2010, to raise awareness of the UK’s dependence as an island nation on all those men and women who work at sea.

As Seafarers UK increases the proportion of its annual £2 million grants budget that is allocated to fishing-related projects, the charity is campaigning for fishermen to be financially resilient, healthy and safe, living and working in thriving coastal communities with a positive future.

A plea has been made for customers in fishmongers, supermarkets, restaurants and pubs to ask for locally-caught fresh fish and seafood from sustainable sources.

Seafarers UK’s Campaigns Manager, Nick Harvey, said: ‘Our 12,000 commercial fishermen deserve the support of everyone who lives in this island nation. Their work is seven times more dangerous than any other occupation, with serious injuries commonplace and an average of 13 deaths every year. The impact of those accidents and fatalities on tight-knit coastal communities is obviously extremely distressing.’

Fishermen using small boats – around 90% of the 5,400 total number of fishing vessels – in particular have to tolerate risk as they struggle to earn a living. They face challenging working conditions, worse than ever before in the one thousand year history of commercial fishing around the UK’s coastline.

Climate change and ocean warming means that some species of fish are gradually moving north in search of food, away from waters traditionally worked by local fishermen in small boats. Many are self-employed and have to go to sea alone, frequently facing harsh weather and unpredictable seas.

The ‘Fishing for a Future’ report from Seafarers UK reveals that many UK fishing ports are suffering from deprivation, prompting the charity to step up its support for fishermen and coastal communities.

Continued Nick Harvey: ‘No one knows what the outcome of Brexit negotiations will mean for the UK’s commercial fishermen, including those who currently export all the shellfish they catch to EU countries. Quotas – the volume of fish that may be caught and kept by UK fishermen and their foreign competitors – will inevitably change, especially if the UK has a ‘no deal’ departure from the EU later this year.’

Initiatives that the Seafarers UK charity is already funding to support fishermen include:

  • Get Sea Fit – a project that provides mobile health care and dental treatment for fishermen who by the nature of their work at sea are unable to access National Health Service facilities.
  • Credit Union Loans – financial assistance for fishermen, plus professional advice that enables them to access (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) grants to pay for improvements to their boats and fishing gear.
  • Lifejackets with locator beacons for fishermen to wear whenever they are working, making a life or death difference if they fall overboard or their boats capsize or sink.

Seafarers UK would like to be able to do much more for British fishermen and their coastal communities. The charity receives no government funding for its work to support seafarers in need and their families. It relies heavily on donations from members of the public.


Media Contact

Nick Harvey
Campaigns Manager
Seafarers UK
Phone: 020 7932 5969
Mobile: 07910 593588