The intergenerational continuity of fishing communities is a growing concern for the sustainability of small-scale fisheries around Europe. This is exemplified through the case of an English crab fishery where young people are being encouraged into fishing through funded training programmes with limited success. Opportunities for work have declined, most notably through a reduction in crew size to save costs. Interviews with fishermen of different ages are explored using access theory to elucidate how the social reproduction of fishing has changed. This shows how the agency of young aspiring fishermen is increasingly constrained by regulatory and financial factors. Improved social and spatial mobility among fishing families mean that recruitment into the fishery through a father-to-son pathway is increasingly uncommon. Youngsters from non-fishing families face additional financial and relational barriers. Funded courses alone cannot provide a solution. A holistic approach to rural coastal development is required to build social resilience in fishing communities across Europe faced with similar problems.