FEARS are growing the Fylde coast’s fishing industry is on the brink.
With two Fleetwood-based companies having folded in recent weeks, there are fears more could go.
And pessimistic dock operators believe the dream of a new home at a £16m fish park will never come to reality.
Secretary of the Fleetwood Fish Merchants’ Association Geoff Anderson said: “There are one or two companies on the brink, although not all of them.
“It isn’t lack of business, it’s bad debt.
“There has always been a fish trade in Fleetwood because there are so many outlets for fish in Lancashire alone. There is still plenty of opportunity but in reduced capacity.”
His view came as merchant’s firm The Fish Plaice announced it would be closing. There are strong hopes that 21 staff involved will be redeployed.
This was on top of the closure of Tommy Carney before Christmas.
Mr Anderson added many did not believe the fish park would be created.
He said: “A year last November we had a meeting with Wyre Council and we thought they were going to tell us the money was in place.
“The first thing they did was start asking our members for money but they simply have not got any.
“Things have been going so badly in the last few years.
“No-one can afford to move.”
Henry Hoogerwerf of Sea King fisheries said: “There will always be a fishing industry but I think it will be a specialist industry.
“There are very few who are running their businesses correctly.
“People have allowed bad debt to run up and they should not have done.
“Everyone who deals in fresh food – a restaurant or chippy – should pay their bills within six or seven days.”
Another merchant, Rick Horabin said: “It’s going to be a smaller industry and those who survive will have to have better ideas about how to push their businesses forward.
“There are seven million people within an hour’s drive of Fleetwood and they have to have fish. There will be consolidation leading to people joining forces and going into single units, but that is what life is all about.
“Those who have lost their jobs recently have been redeployed in the industry because they have skills that are in demand.”
It is rumoured Wyre Council is in talks with a private investor – possibly Tesco – which could bring about a store development as well as the fish park.
Wyre refused to confirm that but economy portfolio holder at the council, Coun Gordon McCann, said: “Wyre is working hard to provide the fish park.
“In the present economic climate it isn’t easy but we are working towards it.”