Coronavirus: Shellfish industry calls for government support

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Fishing boats tied up
Image caption,
Fishing boats are tied up along the East Yorkshire coast

The coronovirus outbreak is destroying the shellfish industry, a fisherman has claimed.

The East Yorkshire coast is home to the UK's largest crab and lobster fishing industry, with about 80% of the catch exported.

Fishing has been suspended and exports to China and Europe have become a "zero marketplace", according to Bridlington fisherman John White.

The industry is calling for more support from the government.

Barry Deas from the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations said the £350bn package of financial measures to support industry announced last month by Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not help fishermen.

"The problem with fishing is that it falls between the gaps in the broad brush support packages," he said.

"The really big gap is for vessel operators that have got continuing costs like harbour dues, insurance, vessel equipment where they're tied into contracts."

Figures from trade association the Holderness Fishing Industry Group shows that the East Yorkshire shellfish industry supports around 150 fishermen and more than 60 small boats.

More than £6m worth of shellfish is landed each year, with around 375 tonnes of lobster and more than 2,300 tonnes of crab.

China is the main market for crab and France and Spain the biggest markets for lobster. Both areas have been locked down during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr White said the shutdown meant no boats were leaving harbour.

"At the moment it's absolutely murdering this industry because we can't fish," he said.

"We've got really a very limited marketplace, for us its absolutely a zero marketplace."

The BBC has approached the government to ask about support for the fishing industry.

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