Times are tougher than ever before for shellfish fishermen on the Northeast coast of England. Over the past 18 months, vast numbers of dead and dying shellfish have been washed up on the beaches. The cause of the deaths is still disputed despite investigations.

One thing not contested is the impact this is having on the local fishermen. Peter Dade, Fishermen’s Mission Area Officer for North Shields tells us more:

“I visit Hartlepool every other week. As time passes and more and more dead shellfish are washed up and the fishermen are becoming increasingly despairing. There is already a huge cost to the wellbeing of the fishermen here with many struggling to provide for their families. The Fishermen’s Mission is doing all it can with bespoke welfare support for the fishermen impacted by this crisis, including running SeaFit events on Hartlepool Fish Quay.”

Photo by G Lee and J Periam

The normally vibrant prawn fishing in the area has also taken a battering with catch yields plummeting by up to 90%. The economic impact of the crisis on the fishing fleet here is unprecedented and around 50% of the fishermen have had to put their boats up for sale. Fishermen’s Mission Chief Executive Marc Evans visited the area recently and commented:

“I asked one fisherman how his family was coping and he had to walk away. It’s difficult for the guys here to even talk about the anguish they are facing. We are increasingly worried about their mental health and some have indicated that life is not worth living anymore.”

Fishermen are traditionally resilient. They have to be given the struggles they face every day at sea. Yet there are times when natural resilience is not enough, and they need help from the Fishermen’s Mission.

Your donation will ensure we can always be there for our fishermen. Listening to their concerns, speaking on their behalf, and making a life-changing difference in their lives.