The market at North Shields fish quay
Crunch time for fishing industry
The rising cost of fuel means fishermen are finding it harder and harder to make a living.
It's not just those on four wheels that are feeling the effects of rising fuel prices.
Fishermen are feeling the credit crunch too.
Burning as much as 20-30 gallons of fuel an hour while at sea means many are struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
The Mission was started in 1881
Struggling to survive
Paul Shone, superintendent at the North Shields Fishermen's Mission, told BBC Radio Newcastle that many fishermen simply are not coping.
"They are being pushed to the point of going under," he said.
"I know of one fisherman who is spending £9,000 a month or more on fuel, every month. And that's before he takes out the cost of insurance on the boat, of other running costs, of mooring the boat up and paying for all the equipment that they have on board."
Paul said many fishermen are struggling to keep their heads above water financially.
"We're hearing stories of fishermen packing it in. These guys aren't like you and I... If these guys don't go into work they don't get paid and even when they do go into work there's no guarantee that at the end of it they're going to come out with a pay packet."
One fisherman from the North East, Richard Brewer Senior, told Look North how he is struggling.
"This time last year my fuel bill was about £2,000 a week. This week it’s about £4,800 a week. So you can imagine how it's having a dramatic effect on this industry," he said.
"We can't pass our costs on to anybody else and we are finding that because other people can, the first hand sales of our fish are going down. So we are being hit three ways: lack of catches, fuel price increases and our prices actually going down."
Paul Shone says it's one of the worst times he's known in his 15 years with the Mission and that these high fuel prices are having a "greater impact" than quotas ever did on fishermen's livelihoods.
Paul with his wife Margaret
He's also concerned that the problems in the fishing industry will have a knock-on effect for other aspects of the local economy - for example the tourism that has built up around the Fish Quay at North Shields.
"A lot of the infrastructure around here still depends in one way or another on the fishing industry," he said.
"The number of people that come down onto the quay to see the fishing boats, to eat fish and chips at the side of the river, and fish that's caught locally... If it isn't there it's going to affect that part of the tourist industry let alone the rest of it."
last updated: 11/07/2008 at 14:05