End of an Era

NUTFA, dedicated to the support, survival and development of the small scale fishing fleet in England and Wales, to close.


Jerry Percy, Director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association [NUTFA] has announced the forthcoming closure of the organisation that has represented the under ten sector of the industry for many years.

Jerry said; “while it was always going to be a difficult decision to close, I’m not getting any younger and to be honest, I refuse to be party to what I see as the ongoing destruction of the under ten fleet.

I think it is a tragedy that the 80% of the fleet that are under ten metres have been treated so shabbily by administrations going back decades that has in turn resulted in such a lack of fish on the inshore grounds, the almost complete lack of effective management especially in terms of effort, the deafening sound of cans being kicked down the road when exactly the opposite approach is needed, [look at the unacceptable delays in controlling the ravages of the fly seine fleet in the Channel etc] and the lip service paid to the under tens by other organisations.

What I still fail to understand is the failure by successive administrations to recognise and reward the smaller scale inshore fleet and thereby ensure the sustainability of their presence in coastal communities. The inherent danger in the current situation facing them is that they are largely the keepers of the knowledge, skills, culture and heritage going back generations and that once lost will be almost impossible to recover.

Compare this with the increasing use of foreign crews and the consolidation of quota – over 50% of UK share is held by foreign interests then the prophetic words of an under ten skipper in The Last Fishermen film we made in 2012 come back to haunt us; “one day there will be one bloody great boat come up here, with Tesco written down its side and it’ll catch more in a day than we will in a year”. With the exception of the Tesco slogan [and they couldn’t even be bothered to keep their fresh fish counters going – every little helps] that’s largely where we are.

NUTFA has recently been criticised for a lack of ‘membership’ which may be convenient for those seeking to undermine the organisation but the claims don’t stand up when we have a voluntary database of over 1000 fishermen who clearly support our aims and objectives.  We don’t charge a membership fee, not only because we do not have the admin capacity to handle it but also because so many in our sector are already on the bones of their backside and both Sarah Ready and I were content to work in a voluntary capacity although Sarah’s side of the work required funding for travel and court related costs that was not forthcoming, hence her recent retirement.

The overarching tragedy for me with regard to the current state of the inshore sector is that the men and women who are involved reflect all that made Britain what it once was. Resilient in the face of immense challenges, courage to keep going in conditions that others would shrink from, the ability to deal with anything and everything that life throws at them [with the possible exception of the MCA and DEFRA] and at the same time managing to stay positive in the face of sometimes crushing adversity.

So many of the under tens and non sector have said time and again that NUTFA was the only dedicated representative body that represented their interests and I’m sorry that they are going to lose that service. I can only hope that others take up the mantle and recognise that these guys are the true backbone of the fishing industry in so many coastal communities around our coast and step up.

If I’m honest, I will look back on my time with NUTFA and the other organisations I’ve been involved with, with a mixture of frustration at the lack of genuine representation and support from other bodies and the lack of recognition of their value by governments but overall with a massive sense of pride and honour to have done what I could to support them through difficult times”.


PODCAST “People Of The Sea”

listen to Jerry Percy speaking with freediver and ocean advocate Hanli Prinsloo about the oceans and how to protect them by clicking here