News from the Ports: 21st July

Each week Clive Palfrey, Regional Safety Adviser for Seafood Cornwall Training, provides an update on the comings and goings from the UK’s fishing ports and markets. Pulled together from skippers and merchants across the country this piece provides an insight into the UK’s fishing fleets and the amazing range of seafood they land every day.

South West England

Looe, Cornwall


Over the past 10-15 years Looe’s fishing fleet has decreased considerably. Back then it was a very busy harbour with fishermen using their own fish market to sell their fish and working on the grounds as far as Newlyn, Brixham and further afield. Every Friday the boats would be tied alongside the quay to mend their own nets and make their vessels safe for the forthcoming 1-2 or 4-5 day trips, depending on the weather and the time of year for species and quantity of fish to catch. Unfortunately, Looe’s harbour is not deep enough for the larger trawlers that the fishermen work nowadays to land their fish locally and most are now mooring their boats in Plymouth, Devon.

Recently a few more trawlers and under 10 metre boats have started working back out of this small but lively fishing town and this is great to see. Father and son, Ivor, and Ivan Toms, can be seen photographed on top of the wheelhouse of their newly bought Paravel FY369, which will enable them to go pair trawling out of Looe. The Paravel was sold after being in Looe for many years a few weeks ago and this local family have  brought her back to the harbour she belongs in. They will be pair trawling alongside their other trawler the Maxine’s Pride. Ivan’s son Rhys is also a fisherman which makes 3 generations all from this small fishing harbour. It is great to see pair trawling back in Looe after over a decade. To pair trawl, one large net is towed between the two boats to catch fish higher off the sea bed such as whiting, haddock and John Dory, this method of fishing was very popular in the 80’s and 90’s  in Cornwall but there has not been a pair team in Looe for over a decade, so it’s return is very welcome!

Also, Cornwall has seen the start of the Cornish sardine ring net fishery with the inshore single handlers having a small boost this week with the return of a few mackerel, coinciding with the price increase due to British restaurants reopening. The ring netting season for this famous fish has now begun andnormallly runs from early July until the end of the year with shoals coming into Mounts Bay and working their way East towards Devon. The ring netters will gather in West Cornwall  to hunt these little silver fish, and chase them up the coast to Brixham, a method which has barely changed for hundreds of years, since the traditional Cornish Lugger shot her tar barked cotton nets to catch what was then called, the pilchard.

STAR BUY: Cornish Sardines. These small silver fish with blue-green backs literally turn to gold on the barbecue! They are hardy, rich in oils and easy to cook. Click here for our guide on how to BBQ fish!


Saundersfoot Harbour

Trawlers in South Wales are few and far between, most small inshore boats around the Pembrokeshire area fish with pots, hoping to catch whelks, lobsters and crabs. Also, that part of the world is famous for its handline caught bass so selling shellfish can be a challenge, with no nearby merchants and the nearest city, Cardiff, being over 100 miles away. In response to this fishermen with small inshore catches have turned to selling direct, using social media such as Facebook. The nearest trawlers fishing 60 miles away in Swansea land their larger catches on Plymouth Fishmarket in Devon, this shows just how hard fishing can be, not just the catch but also the travelling to sell and make a decent profit.

North East Scotland


3747 boxes of fish were sold at Wednesday’s market with 21818 being Marine Stewardship Council Certified, these are fish that are wild, traceable, and sustainably caught. Fish prices were steady with an increase due to the hospitality businesses reopening in England. Cod £3.95,  large haddock £3.92, ling £1.80, monkfish £3.62, and hake £2.70 all averaging per Kilo.

South East England

Julie Waites, Seafish

By 2030, over 60% of all seafood produced and destined for our dinner plates will come from farmed seafood, and currently it is the fastest growing food supplying sector in the world, which means its well worth focusing on aquaculture in the South East this week. And it is all about Oysters. There are numerous oyster farms in Essex which include Colchester Oyster Fishery and Maldon Oysters. Whitstable Oyster Fishery  in Kent, which has PGI status, and Rossmore Oysters who produce the West Mersea Rock Oysters in West Sussex. It has been a particular difficult time, as traditionally they would be supplying top restaurants and hotels. Some have been able to offer online home delivery sales, and the support from the public has been very much appreciated.

Though we find both Pacific and native oysters in the area, the native oyster populations have declined by 95% in the UK since the mid-19th century.  They are now predominantly found in the south east; the Thames Estuary, the Solent and the River Fal.  The UK Native Oyster Network  has three projects established to restore our native oyster in the region, the Solent Oyster restoration project, the Essex Native Oyster Restoration project (ENORI) and Chichester Harbour Oyster Partnership Initiative (CHOPI).

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