Suffolk teenager chooses career as a fisherman to keep town's proud tradition alive

  • "What is it about the cold, the wet and the smelly fish that you love so much?" asks ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

A teenage fisherman is hoping to inspire other youngsters to follow in his footsteps after launching his own £300,000 vessel into the North Sea.

Alex Wightman, 18, from Lowestoft in Suffolk still believes there is a future in fishing despite government figures showing a decline in registered fishing boats in the UK.

His boat, the 10 metre-long Emma Claire, named after his mother, is thought to be the first new vessel in the town's inshore fleet for nearly 20 years.

The fishing industry in Lowestoft, the country's most easterly point, can be traced back to the medieval era and used to be the town’s biggest export but, in keeping with many seaside towns, it has suffered great decline in recent decades.

The £300,000 fishing vessel which eighteen year-old Alex Wightman is skippering off the coast of Lowestoft Credit: ITV News Anglia

There were once several hundred fishing boats working out of the town - today there are just 12.

The popularity of herring - a staple catch for former fisherman - has greatly diminished since the 1970s.

Overfishing for many years has also left cod populations low - but on the upside, demand therefore outstrips supply on the east coast - keeping prices for fishermen like Alex at a premium.

Alex hails from a fishing family, with his brother Max, 23, and dad Steve also fishing off the east coast.

The freshly caught fish is expertly prepared at the family's own processing unit in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Steve believes the fishing industry still has a bright future as long as it can entice a new generation of fishermen and women.

He said: "We try to get youngsters to come into fishing because it is a good way of life at the end of the day.

"If we get a few more youngsters into it hopefully the fishing will hopefully keep going.”

Alex said he felt lucky to embark on a career at sea in a brand new vessel, adding: “I am quite privileged to have this lovely boat.

"Anybody my age, especially coming in to the fishing industry, would absolutely die to have a boat like this.”

And what is it about the cold, the wet and the smell of fish that he loves?

"It’s that satisfaction at the end of the day," he explained.

"You come in with a nice load of fish on board and you’ve got dad on the quay smiling and you feel like you’ve done something for the day.

"You feel like you’ve actually accomplished something rather than just sitting on a computer screen typing away.”

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