Chichester fish and chip shops in crisis over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Fish and chip shops are facing an unprecedented crisis as a knock-on effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Between 40 and 60 per cent of white fish comes from Russian sources, according to the National Federation of Fish Friers, as the industry anticipates a 'terrifying situation'.

While sellers of the British staple grapple with rising energy and shipping costs, sanctions on Russian imports are expected to triple the cost of Russian fish which could decimate fish and chip shops across the country.

LA Fish in The Hornet, Chichester, is one business that is now calling on the community to support your local independent take-away.

Fish and chips stock image

In a rallying statement on social media LA Fish told the city's residents: "Your local community fish shop needs you!

"As you are aware we are seeing unprecedented price rises across all sectors but sadly fish and chip businesses are one of the hardest being hit.

"Along with energy, oil and potatoes seeing significant increases, the price of fish is hitting new levels. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia (which are rightly justified) are hitting our fish stocks as a large portion of our fish come from Russian waters. Demand is high and supply is low.

"We are looking at purchasing fish such as Pollock and Coley to offer which will be a cheaper alternative as we know how everyone is being affected by the cost of living.

"We are looking at a vast chunk of our local fish shops disappearing from our local communities.

"These fish and chips shops were invaluable in supplementing the family's weekly diet in the Second World War, as fish and chips were among the few foods not to be rationed. Queues were often hours long when the word went around that the chips shop had fish.

"Please - when deciding to go for a takeaway - support you local takeaway. The majority are Independent and really appreciate your support."

Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers said: "We just hope customers continue to use their local independent businesses. We are all going to struggle and we need their support... especially fish and chips shops. If they want to contact their local MP too that may help.

"It's a terrifying situation we're facing at the moment. The high prices at the moment come down to a bit of a hang over after Covid. Energy and shipping costs have gone up. Wages have gone up. It's forcing the price of everything up.

"The fish and chip industry has always had quite a tight margin. Fish is a premium protein, it's as expensive as steak in the supermarkets, but our prices have always been low.

"I've never had as much fear for the industry as I'm having now. If we get a sanction on Russian fish we can expect costs to triple. It could cause fish and chip shops to go bust. I've already seen it happening.

"It's a very very scary situation but we have to do the right thing by Ukraine. We've got to let Russia know that what they're doing isn't acceptable, but it will be a heavy price to pay for the industry.

"40 to 60 per cent of white fish comes from Russian sources. It's a massive amount of fish that comes in.

"It's already terrifying. I'm 22 years in the industry and I've been through a lot of scares. But we've got a crisis on a crisis and now the rise to minimum wage and potential return to 20 per cent VAT. I've never seen anything like it, it's everything all at once. It's the most dangerous threat to the industry in 160 years.

"We are in a position where we need to have a huge jump in prices. Everyone's really worried. The VAT rise is going to put so many businesses under. It's not much of an existence when you're worried about bills all the time and it's the businesses that are doing everything right that are suffering.

"We're hoping the Government will listen to us [about VAT] but at the moment it's falling on deaf ears. I don't know if the Chancellor has a rabbit in his hat he's going to pull out in the budget. We used to be a nation of shopkeepers but it seems like we don't really count. 20 per cent VAT will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

"It's going to happen very, very quickly. It's not a bright future."