Friday, 30 November 2012

[] Perils Of Fishermen


For those in peril on the sea... Terrifying images of fishing boat being battered by 30ft waves in the far North Sea show dangers faced by our trawlermen every day

By Libby Galvin

The next time you pop out for a cod and chips, spare a thought for the men who caught your dinner.

These amazing images show a fishing boat being hurled about by gale force winds in the North Sea as the crew battles to keep control.

Caught in mountainous 30ft waves, the state-of-the-art Harvester ploughs through relentlessly to collect cod and plaice.

For the team, it is just another trip - part of the daily life of the unsung heroes who harvest the ocean, as men from Peterhead, north-east Scotland, have done for the last 400 years.

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Fortitude: North Sea trawlermen have been fishing like the men on this boat in some of the world's most unpredictable seas for hundreds of years

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Lashed by waves: The state-of-the-art Harvester is part of the Lunar fishing fleet from Peterhead, north-east Scotland




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Struggling: The skipper is almost entirely submerged by water as it steers through the stormy waters

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Danger: The trawlermen have a daily struggle with the elements every time they leave the shelter of their home ports on the UK's north-east coast

Using the power of her 900hp engine, the skipper has to steer a safe course for the 90ft-long vessel, part of the Lunar fishing fleet.

And at times, the boat almost disappears in the yawning troughs between the huge waves.


Peterhead is one of the biggest trawler communities in the region, where, against the odds, fishing is still the main industry employing more than 500 men and where 100,000 tonnes of fresh fish are landed every year, despite dwindling stocks of cod, plaice and other fish that used to be bountiful in the area.

Earnings are just as risky as the job itself as wages are split between the crew and the vessel depending on how great a haul of fish they manage to bring in.

Some crews could be out at sea for long periods - months at a time - depending on the harvest.

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Against the odds: Peterhead is one of the biggest trawler communities in the region, where fishing is still the main industry employing more than 500 men and where 100,000 tonnes of fresh fish are landed every year, despite dwindling stocks of cod and plaice


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Making waves: Using the power of her 900hp engine, the captain has to steer a safe course for the 90ft-long vessel

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Here comes another one: Life in the fishing grounds can still be a dangerous challenge - as these remarkable pictures clearly show


Where once a trawlerman was almost guaranteed a high gain after hauling in tonnes of fish, these days typical earnings are plummeting.


These striking images evoke the famous naval hymn 'Eternal Father, Strong to Save', whose refrain 'For those in peril' has become an anthem for British and US Navy and US Marine Corps.

The original hymn was written by William Whiting of Winchester, England, in 1860. It was originally intended as a poem for a student of his, who was about to travel to the United States.

The first verse is based on psalm 104 in which God forbids water to flood the earth:     
    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

It was the favorite hymn of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and was sung at his funeral in Hyde Park, New York, in April 1945. The Navy Band also played it in 1963 as U.S. President John Kennedy's body was carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to lie in state.

According to a report by the Seafish Industry Authority, some two thirds of fishing fleets pay their fishermen less than the average UK wage.

The North Sea is under great pressure as numbers of cod, plaice, haddock, salmon and prawns - the 'Big Five' popular fish - fail to satisfy demand.

Consumption of these breeds makes up 75 per cent of total fish consumption in the UK.

And Herring, cod and plaice fisheries may soon face the same plight as mackerel fishing which ceased in the 1970s due to overfishing.

Part of the issue is that rules to protect the stocks of fish, such as limited fishing times and limited numbers of fishing boats, have not been systematically enforced.

The town of Grimsby on Lincolnshire's east coast once laid claim to the title of the 'largest fishing port in the world', with a fleet of over 700 trawlers and the rail links from the town to London's Billingsgate Fish Market allowed Grimsby fish to be renowned nationwide. Today Grimsby's fish docks are virtually deserted, though the towns port is still a hive of activity for cargo vessels.

But Peterhead has been the largest fishing port in Europe from the 1970s onwards. In its prime in the 1980s Peterhead had over 500 trawlers staying at sea for a week each trip.

Peterhead has seen a significant decline in the number of vessels and the value of fish landed has been reduced due to several decades of overfishing which in turn has reduced fishing quotas.

Last month, Tesco announced it would offer new, sustainably caught seasonal lines such as cuttlefish, octopus, Dover sole and squid in response to widespread concerns about over-fishing.

All of the new fish varieties will be caught in and around British coastal waters, particularly in the south west of England.

Initiatives like this one will take the pressure off the North Sea, but could also see Peterhead's fishermen struggle further as the south west begins selling more fish in its stead.



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Hang on: The Harvester trawler hurtles straight into the oncoming swell and takes on board a flood of seawater

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Gone fishing: The Harvester is a state-of-the-art part of the Lunar fishing fleet, seen here caught in mountainous thirty-foot waves

Despite that tragic proportion, officially, the most dangerous job in the world is commercial fishing, with an annual death rate of 116 per 100,000
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Back on course: The ship begins to right itself as the worst of the storm passes on


And the trawlermen's jobs are set to get even more difficult...

Fish are likely to get smaller on average by 2050 because global warming will cut the amount of oxygen in the oceans, according to a study.

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