Will online marketplaces save the fishing industry?

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British fishing industry

Now two months after Brexit, British fishermen and fish exporters are still ensnared in red tape, and the media continue to be full of doom and gloom about fish rotting in warehouses, and lorries being held in lengthy queues.

However, for the past three years, Pesky Fish, a new British tech company founded in December 2017 by Ben King and Aiden Berry, has been working to connect fishermen directly with wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and home chefs, cutting out traditional middlemen. Using Pesky’s online marketplace, a little like eBay but dedicated to commercial fish, customers can buy fish from Britain’s inshore fleet as soon as it’s landed, and get it delivered anywhere in the country the next day. Some are offered with a “buy it now” price, algorithmically generated; the rest is sold by auction. The promise is alluring: better value for the customer, the freshest fish going and a higher price for the fishermen. Pesky Fish sells more than two tonnes of fish per day from Britain’s day boats and artisanal fish farmers.

According to the company’s website, Pesky offers four key benefits:

  • Access to the single market for all boats and buyers – with the ability to source multiple boxes as well as individual fish.
  • Predictability of availability using the company’s advanced casting system to anticipate landings up to five days ahead.
  • Consistency of quality as fish are sourced directly from the boats.
  • Absolute traceability, so customers know exactly which fishermen have caught their fish.

According an article in The Guardian, after starting with individual boats, Pesky has expanded to work with whole ports, Hastings being the most recent addition. At first Berry and King focused on restaurants and wholesalers, but when Covid-19 struck they set up a direct home delivery service, taking advantage of the surge in interest that saw independent food shops’ sales increase more than 63% in the months after the first UK lockdown.

On the main marketplace, fish is sold in at least10kg crates, but the home delivery market allows customers to buy individual fish off the day boats, as well as high-end farmed products, such as mussels from the River Teign, or Wester Ross salmon, smoked with heather honey by Iain Boyd in Ullapool. King says only around half their business is in London, and they’re having as much success outside big cities, where fishmongers have closed and supermarkets might have shut their fish counters.

The full article can be read on The Guardian website: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/feb/21/from-the-docks-to-the-ebay-will-online-marketplaces-save-the-fishing-industry

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