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
Storm Francis is sweeping across the UK, bringing unseasonably strong winds of up to 70 mph along with heavy rain and flooding. With most fishing vessels running for cover it was left up to the larger beam trawlers to fish through the storm. These hardier vessels will push their boats to the limits to fish, with the skippers making the hard decision to “dodge through” if the weather gets way too poor, this means they will haul their gear to just below the surface and head directly into the weather to steady the vessel into the storm. You can see why fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world!
Monday’s market saw the first show of cuttlefish, as last weekend’s Storm Ellen stirred things up, making the cuttles move to the trawling grounds and this season’s first big showing of what the southwest fishermen call black gold. Barry Young, managing director of Brixham Trawler Agents told me that prices are good right across the board with strong demand from Europe as well as the UK markets. With autumn fast approaching, the fishing patterns change with the increase of species such as cuttlefish, monkfish, squid, and Dover sole.
STAR BUY: Cuttlefish (black gold). The start of the cuttle season in the English Channel, very similar to a , almost all cuttlefish are sold to the European market, the British consumer is really missing out on a treat here. Ask your local fishmonger and give it a try, you will not be sorry!
It’s been an extremely busy time in Bangor, restaurants are crying out for seafood as demand is higher than supply. Handline caught mackerel and bass are the most sought-after species, closely followed by locally caught lobster. Mackerel fishing has been difficult in recent weeks due to the poor spell of weather, the bad weather disperses mackerel shoals and makes them harder to catch, that is if the weather actually allows you to get out to catch them! The government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme has been extraordinarily successful in Wales during the summer tourist season. Local fishermen literally cannot keep up with the demand for the fish.
North West Scotland
Lerwick is Shetland’s premier port and Britain’s most northern fish market. This port accepts the usual demersal fish but also process pelagic fish such as mackerel and herring. These fish are usually caught by the exceptionally large fishing vessels of up to 70 metres in length, towing huge trawls with an opening end the size of many football pitches put together.
13 fishing vessels landed to Shetland fish market on Tuesday with a total of 1098 boxes of fish. 3470 kilos of cod sold for between £4.09 and £4.73 per kilo, haddock sold £2.22 for the smaller fish and £4.55 for the larger per kilo, on average. 10 tons of saithe made up the bulk weight of the catch and sold on average £1.00 per kilo.
South East England
Julie Waites, Seafish
As export markets open up many businesses are now increasing their efforts to export product and maintain their new UK consumer market, whether that’s on-line, home deliveries or new retail outlets. For species such as lobster this has put a bit of pressure on supply, as there is still good demand in the UK, possibly because we are not travelling abroad as much. Reports are coming in of fishermen receiving £15-16/kg for lobster. Businesses who export should be preparing for the EU Exit, assistance on what to do is available at Seafish.
Dover soles continue to be landed; they are getting very fat and therefore succulent. Off the Suffolk coast they are mainly caught by gill netting. The catch is popular with local restaurants and the London fishmongers. Weather warnings are now in place as Storm Francis approaches the UK, which will effect local fishing efforts.