At Waterdance, we have been working to modernise our fleet for some time, and in the past three years we have commissioned three new fishing vessels. The Nichola of Ladram, a Crabber, was built in 2019; the Georgina of Ladram, a Beam Trawler, was built in 2020; and the Amanda of Ladram, an Offshore Netter, is currently being built in Whitby, UK, and is scheduled for completion later this year. In this post, we explain the benefits of building new vessels and suggest ways the UK government could help to support the future growth of the country’s fishing industry.
We have found the benefits of modernising the Waterdance fleet (and incentivising new-build vessels, rather than repairing old vessels) to be numerous. For example, the newer fishing vessels have new hull designs and have proved themselves to be more energy-efficient, with lower fuel emissions. Importantly, our crews also like the new vessels, because they are built to comply with the most up-to-date regulations for crew living standards, ensuring optimally designed living space and greater comfort.
Beyond Waterdance, the building of new vessels also benefits numerous other industries and supply chains (Teignbridge Propellers collaborates with Waterdance). The UK is home to several highly-skilled shipyards, including Parkol Marine Engineering Ltd in Whitby, where the Amanda of Ladram is currently being built. Whenever a new vessel is commissioned, the shipyard will require a supply of materials and parts, and these in their turn need to be produced; in this way, a working shipyard is part of a supply chain that can help to provide employment in areas where opportunities may otherwise be limited.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN DO TO HELP
It is clear the UK government is committed to future investment in the UK fishing industry, having pledged money to aid investment in the seafood sector, though we have yet to understand whether investment in new-build vessels will qualify for any support. In the absence of financial support, it is very likely that fishermen will continue to source less efficient and less safe second-hand vessels. If greater financial incentives were to be put in place for investing in new-builds, fishermen would likely take the opportunity to update and improve their vessels, and thus their catch.
If the government wishes to support the scaling-up and modernisation of the UK fishing industry (and in turn provide work for UK shipyards and employment in coastal areas), it should consider re-introducing the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme. Combined with financial incentives on a par with those provided to other industries, the scheme would provide a greater level of support for any business seeking to modernise its fleet, and thereby help to stimulate the building of more fishing vessels in the UK.