BRIXHAM-based commercial fisherman Rick Fowler has given his fishing boat a new lease of life with support from NatWest.
Rick has been fishing in the area with his own vessels for 24 years. Working as part of a shared crew, Rick specialises in white fish and scallop dredging, supplying goods to a local auction, which are then bought and transported throughout Europe.
With quotas and restrictions recently having been introduced in the local fishing area, Rick knew he would need to venture further afield to catch more fish and maintain demand. To enable crew members to spend longer hours on board, including sleeping overnight, refurbishments were required to upgrade the living quarters.
Rick explained: "Day trips last about 5am until 8pm but that's in the local area. Going further away we need to spend more time there to make it viable — refurbishing the boat means the crew can be more comfortable and safe."
In order to fund the refurbishment, Rick turned to Andy Rowe, relationship manager at the NatWest Torquay office.
Together they were able to secure a £80,000 fixed rate loan with no arrangement fee under the government's Funding for Lending Scheme.
Combined with European Funding through the Marine Management Organisation, the funds enabled Rick to implement a new wheelhouse, galley, toilets, showers as well as painting and cleaning out the boat's sleeping area which accommodates four crew members.
The refurbishment of the 280 horsepower diesel engine, 15 metre boat will keep the vessel in a sea-worthy condition, prolonging the life of the boat. The investment will also ensure its quality so Rick is able to sell it on in the future.
Rick added:"By maintaining a regular income of fish, which we're able to do by going to fisheries in other ports, hopefully we'll have a more stable income."
Local suppliers in the close-knit community of Brixham have also benefited from the development as the work has been carried out by companies in the area, in particular the main contractor Brixham-based, Stride Engineering. Additionally, it will be advantageous to the auctioneer and local fish bars as stock from other ports will be brought into Brixham.
Andy said: "Rick is well versed in his area of expertise. I'm pleased we've been able to support him and I'm looking forward to continuing working together to help meet and exceed his ambitions."