As fishermen retire or otherwise exit the industry quotas are sold and increasingly the highest bidders are larger companies outside Cornwall.
This trend reduces the availability of quota left to the existing Cornish fleet and this makes it almost impossible for any new entrants to join the industry. If left un-checked all of Cornwall’s quota could be owned outside Cornwall and the fish caught using these quotas could be landed anywhere, thus depriving the onshore sector of Cornwall’s seafood industry of the fish they need to process.
Taken to its logical conclusion Cornwall – a county, surrounded by sea and abundant fish stocks could be left without quota for Cornish fishermen to catch these fish. This scenario may sound exaggerated but is exactly what has happened in Iceland, where many years of vertical and horizontal integration within the industry has left large numbers of fishing communities without quota and therefore without a fleet, with poor employment opportunities in the surrounding economic hinterland the consequence has been the socio-economic failure of many such communities.
Since 2005 £4 million Cornish linked fish quota has been lost from the county due to purchases by larger companies outside of Cornwall (data from Cornwall Development Company quota study for Cornwall and Isles of Silly Local Enterprise Partnership).
Access to fishing quota has become the linchpin factor in entering or growing the industry and is fundamental to the supply chain it supports.