How a local school in Whitby hopes to save Britain’s fishing industry

The Telegraph reports that Ellis Hoey has always felt drawn to the sea. A keen fisherman from the age of twelve, he would often go out angling in the dead of winter, casting his line from the edge of piers in the hope of landing some whiting to take home for supper. The prospect of being caught out by a freak wave only added to his sense of excitement.

Back in Whitby, a small coastal town in Yorkshire, he has enrolled at a local fishing school opened in 2002, which offers training to youngsters intent on becoming seamen.

After completing his initial safety training he will be sent out into depths of the North Sea, where he will spend the next few years working on board a local skipper’s boat, trawling for crabs, lobsters and salmon. He is in the right place.

Whibty Fishing School hopes to change that. Launched with the purpose of “rejuvenating” the fishing industry, its doors are open to young men and women across the country. It is the only training provider of its kind in England, offering courses geared specifically towards training young sea fishing recruits.

Taking around four intakes a year, the school (a non-profit) pays for all of the students’ training and expenses. In a throwback to Captain Cook’s day, recruits are housed in homely lodgings. They learn their craft both in the classroom and out at sea, taught to survive a storm and, more importantly, how to tie a palomar knot. 

“All we’re trying to do is bring youth into the industry,” explains Andrew Hodgson, the business development manager at the fishing school.

It takes a certain type of 16 year-old to make a good fisherman, and one that seems today to be increasingly rare: someone who enjoys being outdoors, who isn’t afraid of hard graft and early starts, and who’s willing to take orders.

“It hasn’t changed for ever has it really?” Ellis says. “It hasn’t changed in the past and it’s not gonna change in the future. There’s always gonna be people working off the boats.”

Read more How a local school in Whitby hopes to save Britain’s fishing industry

Can you see any of your pupils on the high seas? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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