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.
West Coast Scotland
The larger scallop fishing vessels have had to alter their regular fishing pattern. Normally these boats fish five days on, rotate the crew, then fish for another five day trip and repeat. Now they are having to do 3×3 day trips with the same crew, with the boat then being tied up for four days to restart the trips. This is to enable crew isolation to be carried out at its very best and giving all the crew some time off. This means that said vessel loses eight to ten days at sea every month with a big financial drop to the company.
Many small family owned boats to the North have hardly been able to fish at all this year. Firstly a severe winter limited fishing, then when the finer weather came, the outbreak of COVID-19 now means restricted fishing with limited markets.
Prime fish has been landed in Scotland this past week. Unfortunately this has led to an “over supply” of most species due to COVID-19’s impact on businesses and daily life. One of the many species under-utilised in the UK is megrim, this fish produces a lovely tasty fillet similar to a Lemon Sole.
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With Scallop exports very difficult at the moment, some fishing vessels have taken to supplying their local market at a reduced price. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, selling crab and lobster locally has been a terrific breakthrough with great success. The Spanish Export Market has just started to reopen but the prices are very poor.
The handline bass fishing in Wales has been abysmal, claiming to be one of the worst winters in living memory, with the bass being priced at least half of the price it would normally be.
South West England
In general, fish prices are down 50% compared to normal prices for the time of year. The drop of the price of fuel has helped immensely as this is a major cost for most fishing methods, unfortunately this has not been nearly enough to compensate for the low fish prices.
The inshore cuttlefish season has started to commence with boats fishing as far up the coast as Portsmouth. Steady landings of Dover sole, monkfish and lemon sole have been a major part of the landings in Brixham, with a steady supply of these species going to Belgium, Holland and France, due to the success of the new online auction.
South East England
Julie Waites, Seafish
Mixed fresh fish box sales are proving very popular, these are a great way to support local catch which is available and to try a wide range of species; boxes range from £20-£100 depending on your supplier and the local catch. In the Eastern English Channel line caught Sea Bass continues to be landed, along with crab, mackerel, plaice, turbot, bream, skate and sole. As the weather settles and temperatures increase this month the annual local cuttlefish fishery will commence in the Sussex district, the season usually lasts for 6 – 8 weeks.
The Samphire season has begun too, a perfect accompaniment to any fish.