Brixham fishmarket saw a record-breaking £60.8m-worth of fish auctioned during 2022, reports Paul Scott.
The amount smashes its previous record of £43.6m, set in 2021, and includes a first- ever £2m week for the market, recorded in September.
Barry Young, managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents (BTA), said that factors including coming out of Covid, the post-Brexit environment, record fuel prices and the cost of living crisis meant that 2022 was initially a tough year to predict.
“However, it soon became clear that the value of fish sold on Brixham fishmarket would break existing records,” he said. “The record stood at £43.6m for 2021, and as early as June 2022 the directors of BTA knew that record was going to be beaten.”
Other factors, Barry Young said, included newly built boats fishing out of Brixham, favourable weather and a good cuttlefish season.
BTA has recently increased its workforce from 50 to 65 to cover the additional work generated by the market’s success. “The market only works with the continued teamwork between the fishermen, BTA and all the fish buyers,” said Barry Young. “All three need to work together, and buy into the industry, for these record figures to be achieved.”
He said that predictions for this year were difficult, but with everything being equal ‘a similar figure should be achievable’.
“The biggest issue facing Brixham is space. It has been well documented that with the additional volumes of fish, Brixham has outgrown the market that was built in 2011, when the values of fish landed were approaching £20m,” he said.
“Hopefully, Torbay Council’s application for Levelling Up funding will be successful and another market building can be built, allowing the expansion to go ahead, and make sure safe working conditions are met for all harbour users.”
He said there were a number of reasons for the market’s record-breaking performance, including continued high fish prices, especially in the EU, and the success of its online, cloud- based auction.
He added that more boats from other ports were landing or consigning to Brixham as prices on the auction were so favourable, with increasing numbers of fishermen from Cornwall and South Wales opting for Brixham.
Brexit was also cited as a factor in the port’s success.
“As a result of Brexit, boats from the south and southeast coast could no longer send fish direct into the EU, without all the paperwork. The fishermen had to look elsewhere to sell their catch, and a fair and competitive fish auction at Brixham was their best option.”
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.