Time for another quick glance over our shoulders to a Milford of a different era, in this instance, from 80 years ago.

The trawler is the "Shama" M223/ A246. A vessel which did service for the Admiralty during both wars, and landed at Milford from December 1936 to February 1946.

She was owned by the Pair Fishing Co. and skippered by J. King. The 2nd snap is of one of her catches… 1000 kit, mostly silvery hake, as seen here spread across the deck.

Returned to Aberdeen in 1946 and scrapped in 1954.

It's always fascinating to hear the insightful thoughts of an expert and I was delighted to come across this next piece from O. W. Limbrick, F.C.I.S... when he was president of the Trawler Owner's Association in Milford.

"The year 1948 has, in fishing phraseology, been a 'mixed bag,' or, like the Curate's egg, been 'good in parts.'

It is evident that there has been over-fishing on South and West of Ireland in the grounds normally operated by vessels from the Port of Milford Haven.

This has not been due to British fishing vessels… that is, considering the number and tonnage operating. This question of over-fishing is a highly complicated matter, necessitating international agreement and the implementing of such agreements.

It is not entirely a matter for the British Government.

The quantity of fish caught per ton of tonnage fishing has dropped alarmingly and is still dropping.

Unfortunately, costs are rising and, to quote an example, the cost of coal alone has reached a figure which in itself would have constituted in the pre-war years a payable trip.

The cost of coal is, of course, reflected in the cost of everything used on a trawler.

The quantity of dirt in it these days also adds to the price considerably. General costs can be computed at over 400% of the pre-war costs.

Other things also contribute greatly to the cost.  Many privileges, as against pre-war conditions, and as against any other Ports, have become more or less established at Milford Haven. Some of these were expedients adopted at a time when we were begging for our industry to be allowed to remain in the Port.  I refer to the time just before 'D-Day,' when the Naval Authorities had decided that the industry had to be completely cleared from Milford Haven, as it was feared that Naval operations might be interfered with.

Western Telegraph: Shama M223/A246 trawlerShama M223/A246 trawler (Image: Jeff Dunn)

The Owners agreed to restriction of sailing hours and conditions of sailings, and made many sacrifices before it was decided the industry could remain. These, together with the great efforts made by Mr J C Ward, Gen. Mgr, of the Milford Docks Co., eventually persuaded the powers-that-be to alter their opinion. Had the industry moved it is a moot point if it would ever have been completely re-established in Milford.

Wrecks of ships and planes, together with mine sinkers and all the paraphernalia of sea warfare, are cluttering up fishing grounds and taking a heavy toll on fishing gear.

Enough has been heard in the Press about the Shipping Scheme introduced in the Port on the abolition of the Essential Works Order. This is the only scheme of its sort in the British Isles. It has been worked by a joint committee of Owners and Unions, and provided for the payment, by Owners, of men not on ships in return for certain measures of discipline.

Hundreds of cases of indiscipline really came about by shortage of personnel.

The necessity of selling and laying up of ships due to bad trade has brought about a temporary surplus, so great as to make the continued private unemployment payment prohibitive, and owners have had to discontinue such.

Western Telegraph: One of the catches by the ShamaOne of the catches by the Shama (Image: Jeff Dunn)

I think I should be right in saying that 1947 was, broadly speaking, the year of the small or 'crabber' class of vessel, and was a lean year for most of the large or deep water class.

In 1948 the position was switched round and, in the main, the deep water class has operated more successfully than the smaller class. At present the tendency seems for some owners to favour the larger class of vessel of the 135' and over size. Some of these have been working grounds very much more to the North than usually operated from Milford, and good trips have been landed from that area.

In a survey which must essentially be brief, the subject of the industry at Milford Haven can only be treated superficially. The problems which beset it are many and varied.

Conditions alter almost hourly, and rarely is there a precedent upon which immediate decisions can be based. No matter what else can be controlled, weather cannot, and weather more than anything upsets the calculations of all engaged in the industry.

Due to its perishable nature, high speed in disposing of fish is essential from the time it is caught.

All sections will have to approach the problems in a statesmanlike manner and endeavour to obtain a solution to them for the benefit of the industry, which affects everyone in the Port, and a considerable number in the county."

I must admit that, over the years, doing these TRM columns, I have learned, and come to understand, so much more than I did about Milford's fishing industry.

Now it's time to up-anchor and sail away, but I leave you with this thought from Mencius: "The great man is one who never loses his child's heart."

Take care, please stay safe.