A career in fishing, while often extremely fulfilling, can also bring with it the potential for poor mental health and wellbeing. Financial insecurity, feelings of isolation and separation, and a reluctance to seek support have been listed among the top reasons for mental vulnerability within UK fishing communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has in many cases worsened this vulnerability, and raised a number of welfare issues besides. There is a need to address both the underlying causes of these problems and to provide support for those that suffer from mental health and welfare issues connected to them.

Many fishing communities in the UK are classified as deprived, which is often a key factor underlying mental distress. A survey from Seafarers UK found that over 95% of respondents working in fishing suffered from stress. Other commonly observed mental health issues include depression, anxiety and trauma from incidents at sea. Additionally, there is a perceived reluctance among the community to acknowledge mental health concerns until they become severe.

Our counsellor, Peter Frewer, will be speaking at the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) meeting on the 2nd of July to discuss the relationship between a fishing career and mental health. The APPG promotes and supports the UK fishing industry in parliament, and have proposed that the aforementioned meeting will ‘examine the causes and symptoms of underlying mental health and welfare issues in coastal communities, and will draw on experience from those that work to address them. We will hear from voices both providing the background to the relationship between welfare, wellbeing and a life at sea, as well as suggesting ways that policy, community support or other services could help tackle resultant issues.

If you wish to attend, or for further information, contact us at secretariat@fisheriesappg.org.’

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