Who are the Fishermen’s Mission

Established in 1881, The Fishermen’s Mission is the only UK based charity providing personalised support to active and retired fishermen and their families. Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. The statistics for the UK can be shocking (Source: MAIB- Marine Accident Investigation Branch):

  • Fishermen are 115 times more likely to suffer a fatal accident than the rest of the workforce
  • Every year an average of 15 fishermen are killed or seriously injured
  • Traumatic amputation and bone fractures are the most common injuries sustained by active fishermen

From an underpinning of Christian values, we provide 24/7 Emergency Response each day of the year and assistance to families of fishermen who have been killed, injured or lost at sea. We liaise with the teams who rescue our fishermen when in peril and help them find accommodation, food, and clothing and re-connect with their families. In 2016 alone we responded to 123 emergencies and visited 4,507 fishing boats: nearly a third of the entire UK commercial fleet.

While response to emergencies is our highest priority, our Outreach Programme has always been our most comprehensive tool in delivering long term, ‘wrap-around’ support to fishing communities. From over 30 mini centres and through a network of staff and volunteers in over 80 ports and harbours, we deliver a ‘person-centred’ and flexible welfare Outreach Programme throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Fishermen’s Mission, along with a number of partners including The Merchant Navy Welfare Board, Seafish, ILO 188 (Fishing Convention) and the RNLI, is also actively involved in key issues such as working conditions in the fishing industry and national safety initiatives.

Our core beneficiaries include active and retired fishermen and their widows and dependents. The active fishermen we support are primarily comprised of the smaller operators with boats less than 15 metres in length. Commercial success depends heavily on a host of complex factors from the weather to fluctuating fish prices. Many are in serious debt to ‘loan sharks’ in order to pay for life’s basics such as rent and food for their families. With financial fragility come other associated welfare issues such as high risk alcohol use, stress and family relationship difficulties. Active fishermen also face specific occupational health issues such as heart disease and for a number of reasons including long working hours, are failing to regularly access primary healthcare services which is the first step towards the diagnosis and treatment of serious health conditions.

Health and financial problems often result in isolation and social exclusion which in turn can have serious implications for mental health. With statutory mental health services across the country arguably at breaking point, our outreach personnel in all three areas have seen increases in symptoms of severe anxiety, depression and dementia among their beneficiaries and a disturbing lack of local provision to adequately address this.