Calls for more young people to join Cromer's fishing industry
- Credit: Archant
Cromer and crabs go hand in hand, but there are concerns the future of the seaside town's fishing industry could be at risk because of a lack of young people entering the trade.
For hundreds of years, fishermen have caught crabs off the coast of Cromer.
The tasty crustaceans, known for their delicate, flavoursome meat are famous across the country and one of the seaside town's greatest draws, attracting hundreds of tourists a year who head to town's many cafes for crab sandwiches and salads.
But there are growing concerns over the longevity of the industry because of a lack of young people coming through the ranks and learning the necessary skills. High start-up costs, coupled with the tough nature of fishing, unsociable hours and a need to learn on the job are thought to be the greatest barriers to young people from joining the trade.
John Davies, a Cromer fisherman who is the eighth generation of his family to fish on the chalk bed, said the industry was "struggling full stop" to recruit younger members.
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He said: "We just struggle full stop with youngsters to come into the industry, we've been trying for quite some time to get [more to join].
"There's no youngsters coming into the industry at all, the only young lad I know is Henry Randall at Weybourne, there are no youngsters coming along at all, it's not a job you can learn out of a book it's something you have to understand."
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Mr Davies, who owns Davies Fish Shop in the town, said while he was the latest generation of his family to fish Cromer's chalk bed, his children were not following in his footsteps and had chosen other career paths.
He said he understood why the job was not necessarily an appealing career path: "Who wants to get up early in the morning at unsociable hours? There are far easier ways to earn a living now than going to sea in all weathers."
"There's no youngsters coming into the industry at all"
Mr Davies said he was "very concerned" about the future of the fishery a concern compounded by a Natural England investigation into the health of the chalk bed and effect of potting -the method of using pots to fishing for crabs and lobsters- on it.
He said the concern for Cromer's fishing industry went beyond the trade itself: "It's not only the fishing industry, it's the tourism industry as well, ask holidaymakers in Cromer what they want, they ant crab salad. It's what Cromer's known for."
Henry Randell, who at 26, is one of the youngest fishermen in the North Norfolk area said the initial costs of getting into fishing were the biggest barriers to entering the industry.
Mr Randell, who upon leaving school at 16 took on his grandfather's boat and license said unless people had a family member in the trade it was "nearly impossible to get into" because of the initial outlay.
He said start-up costs for fishermen were in the region of £20,000-£30,000 whereas he had a friend who was a bricklayer who could buy all his equipment for £1,500.
Mr Randell said: "It's a very hard job, a lot of people don't like hard manual labour nowadays."
"You're not just going to sea, you're also repairing pots and making pots, that's what people learn, it takes years to pick it up, it's not an easy job, you can't just walk straight into it. It would be nice to see more people get into it."
Mr Randell said the lack of young people entering the fishing industry was concerning and although hard he would not want to be doing anything else.
"Watching the sunrise on a lovely morning, there nowhere better to be. This time of year when it's still dark at 8am in the morning it's a bit more difficult but I would not enjoy being in an office.
"It's more a way of life really it's what we do. But it would be nice to see a few more youngsters get into it."