Whitehaven Harbour is the only commercial fishing port in Copeland and the fishing industry has a positive impact on the local economy and offers job opportunities to members of the local community. Being able to sustain this level is determined by having fully qualified sea-going crew. With the impending introduction of legislation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are enforcing that boats may not put to sea with unqualified crew.
Ron Graham, Chairman of the Whitehaven Fishermen’s Co-operative said “Commercial fishing is recognised as the most hazardous peacetime occupation and as a consequence of legislation it was essential that training courses were available locally as the cost of travelling to other locations can be incredibly restrictive, with regard to time and financial costs, and would have put the local fishing industry in a distinct disadvantage. Therefore securing funding to be able to host courses locally was essential to ensure the crews can gain qualifications and we are able to attract new people to the industry. In December 2012 a survey was conducted in Whitehaven by the Co-operative requesting names of people interested in obtaining a qualification required for new entrants or professional qualifications in the fishing industry. Without advertising in the local media there were 23 applicants, nearly 50% of which would be new to the industry. This was really positive feedback so we knew we had to find funding to move forward and keep the interest in the industry.”
Ron added “we were delighted when we secured the funding form Copeland Community Fund as we were able to cover the cost of training for a minimum of 28 fishermen, purchase special items of equipment necessary to deliver the training and a small number of our own Co-op members trained and qualified to deliver these necessary courses well into the future. Working in conjunction with an established Fishing Industry Training association we were able to host courses locally we can be flexible and deliver the courses at short notice as crews are often driven by tides and weather rather than calendar dates. We hope in time that we can deliver sea safety training to young people’s groups like the Scouts/Guides and Sea Cadets”.
Other funding was from: North & West Cumbria FLAG and Whitehaven Fishermen’s Co-operative.