Co-operative Futures began its work supporting the UK’s small-scale fishermen in 2013 by speaking about co-operatives at a national fishermen’s conference.
Working with other organisations in the sector Co-op Futures’ industry analysis suggested that a significant contributory factor in the marginalisation of these fishermen was their lack of representation and participation within the UK’s government recognised Fishery Producer Organisations. Fair representation and participation of small-scale fishermen in producer organisations (POs) is a requirement of the EU Common Fisheries Policy and POs are intended to be co-operative to enshrine that fair representation and participation.
Work began to set up a national co-operative to represent the small-scale fishermen and the Coastal Producer Organisation was incorporated in March 2015. Within a year it had recruited over 200 members and there are currently 280 small-scale fishermen in membership. The Coastal Producer Organisation now has the largest membership of any UK recognised PO and represents more than twice as many small-scale fishermen as all other UK POs combined.