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Getting young people into commercial sea fishing - FLAG Cornwall and Isles of Scilly - UK

Training courses from Cornwall, UK, show how FLAGs can support skills acquisition and restore the attractiveness of the sector to young professionals. 19 young unemployed people have subsequently found work in fishing and fishing related sectors.

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Despite an aging workforce and limited appeal to many younger people, the fishing business is evolving, requiring new skills and offering new opportunities to the next generation of qualified fishermen and women. In cooperation with a charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged young people, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly FLAG successfully funded a series of training courses aimed at attracting younger recruits into the fishing industry and seafood catering.

The commercial fishing course, accredited by Seafish, the UK’s seafood authority, is a three-week introduction to commercial fishing, equipping candidates with the basic skills and knowledge to work at sea in a safe and efficient manner. The course consists of two weeks of shore-based training (covering safety, gear and catch handling, net mending, rope work, navigation, and boat handling) followed by a one-week mandatory basic safety course (sea survival, firefighting, first aid, health and safety), which includes the Seafish basic fishing vessel stability course. The seafood catering course was delivered by Padstow Seafood School to develop skills and learning for young people interested in the shore-based part of the industry and also seafood catering.
The project targets unemployed young people, working in partnership with local job and social centres. Starting with a “taster” session, the motivated candidates learn all about fisheries and also get the opportunity to develop interview skills and improve their CVs to help them find work. The commercial fishing course is led by qualified Seafish instructors, many of whom are active or retired fishermen, so the participants get a real insight into the lifestyle and social aspects of the industry, while direct contact with skippers also helps to boost job opportunities. 
 Key lessons  

Relevance to FARNET themes: Society, training, heritage.

Results: The fisheries course has been delivered twice in Newlyn, the hub of the fishing industry and the largest active fishing port in Cornwall, and a third session was organised in Looe, offering a total of 36 unemployed people between the ages of 16-25 the opportunity to take part. Nine students went on to find a job following the course: eight onboard local fishing vessels working as crew members and one on the fish market. A fourth session is currently in preparation in Newlyn.

The seafood catering course took place in Padstow, attracting twelve participants, of which ten have secured jobs as an outcome of the course.

Transferability: A lack of skills and an aging workforce are common complaints in many fisheries areas around Europe. FLAGs can facilitate training and skills acquisition by co-financing existing or innovative education programmes, either through partnerships with public education bodies (schools, universities) or nonprofit organisations or charities.

Final Comment: Such projects can help fishing to remain an attractive and productive activity for coastal communities. However, it is crucial to adapt training and education opportunities to the specific circumstances and expectations of the target audience. In this case, a short but intensive training package allowed candidates to acquire motivation, knowledge and skills in a short timeframe.


Total cost and EFF contribution

Total project cost of round one (two Newlyn training sessions in

commercial fishing): €69 500

EFF Axis 4: €38 900

National co-financing: €12 970

Private contribution: €17 630 (West Cornwall Youth Trust and

the Princes Trust)

Total project cost of round two (training session in commercial fishing in Looe and the further session foreseen in Newlyn; and training session on seafood catering in Padstow): € 99 900

EFF Axis 4: €74 925

National co-financing: €24 975



Project information:                   

Title: Getting young people into commercial sea fishing

Duration: Autumn 2012 – Spring 2013

Case study date: August 2014


Project promoter:

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly FLAG & Seafood Cornwall


FLAG details                 

Chris.Ranford (at)

+44 1872 243559

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly FLAG factsheet