The credit crunch is blamed for making problems worse
The Fishermen's Mission in Cornwall says the number of fishermen approaching them for help has been rising sharply.
The mission at Newlyn gave financial help to 22 fishermen in the county last year, but now about two people are asking for help every week.
Fishermen say they are already being squeezed by rising fuel costs.
But now the economic downturn is hitting demand, especially at the top end of the market.
If we don't get a trip because of the weather I'm left with a pile of debt
Keith Dixon, superintendent of the Fishermen's Mission in Newlyn told BBC News: "It is a phenomenal increase of people who are coming in real need.
"What we give is last resort support. It's to allow people to keep going."
Newlyn fish merchant Robin Turner said: "The credit crunch means that the first thing that goes is people dining out.
"This alters the top end of the fishing industry."
Fisherman David Stevens, 34, said he is looking for cheaper species of fish such as red gurnard, west country haddocks, megrims and hake.
He said: "We haven't got a lot in reserve because of what we have had to spend on fuel."
We haven't got a lot in reserve because of what we have had to spend on fuel
David Stevens of Plymouth-based trawler Crystal Sea said in his blog: "I'm sure we'll all feel the pinch soon enough, but we have been through a lot in the past 10 years and most recently the fuel crises so we won't let some crunch finish us off.
"The big problem will be getting credit to invest in the industry but with sensible planning I'm sure we'll get through."
Cornish tuna fisherman Quentin Knights revealed in his blog how the pressure is on for local fishermen.
"Just to try to let you understand, the running coats of my vessels per trip is approximately £6,000 - fuel lots of it, ice lots of that too, food, lube oil etc.
"That means we have to catch £6,000 worth of fish before we even start to earn any wages, that's a lot of fish believe you me!
"If we don't get a trip because of the weather I'm left with a pile of debt."
The Fishermen's Mission has been in Cornwall since 1896, initially in Penzance and then in Newlyn since 1903.
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