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.
North West Scotland
STAR BUY: SKATE
A mild and delicate fish, caught all around the UK. The skate pictured is the biggest I have ever seen! This giant was caught by David Jones on his boat Jackdaw PH1023 whilst fishing out of Buckie into the Moray Firth Scotland. David is a very experienced fisherman from Wales who fishes all around the UK in his small inshore trawler. He has fished from Wales to Cornwall and as far North as Shetland all in the last 12 months. A true hunter of the sea.
29 boats landed 603 boxes of fish at Monday’s market. A variety of 18 different species from your usual white fish such as cod, haddock and hake, to your lesser known British fish like halibut, ling and squid. The latter species are usually exported to Europe, however they are very tasty fish and if you have not yet tried any of them, now is the time to give them a try!
Average prices today are as follows: Cod £3.11 per kilo, Haddock £2.74 per kilo Hake £1.73 per Kilo Halibut £9.56 per Kilo, Ling £1.45 per Kilo, Squid £2.29 per Kilo.
South West England
With the recent warm sunny conditions, it is believed that the largest ever coccolitophore bloom has grown in the English Channel. A plankton, coccolitophore enhances the oceans colour by releasing billions of bright chalky plates from its cells. Coccus are grazed on by microzooplankton and their shading and cooling of surface waters can have a negative impact on the ecosystem. The reason I bring this to your attention is that fishing has been poor, especially with the trawlers and netters. I have been monitoring the boats lately with skippers and crew moaning about poor fishing and also mentioning the colour of the water (a tropical turquoise colour) . There are lots of variables when it comes to catching fish, such as: the tides (spring or neap), weather (heavy rain and wind direction), seabed visibility and so on . Dirty water can sometimes have an effect on hauls, and I think that’s what has been happening here.
Brixham saw the first landing from the newly built beam trawler Georgina of Ladram BM 100, her maiden trip went well with not too many teething issues. Fishing was steady but the prices were poor, and the first takings were disappointing. Day boat trawlers have found it difficult to catch much in the last couple of weeks, with the lemon sole season possibly coming to an end, however they have started to see a few John Dory’s showing up on the fishing grounds.
A COVID-19 Tale
Sion Williams, a sustainable lobster fisherman from a small natural cove on the Lynn Peninsula, was facing financial disaster – heavy storms had been preventing him from making his catch, and now Covid19 meant his export to China and Europe was closed, leaving him with no route to market.
Sion explains: “90% of the shellfish caught in Welsh waters are exported, which makes us very vulnerable to situations outside our control. In the future I believe that the seafood industry within the UK should be less dependent on export. Shortening the supply chains reduces carbon footprint. It makes no sense exporting high quality seafood that is high in nutrients all over Europe and halfway around the world when we could be eating it and benefiting economically and health wise consuming it within the UK.”
Sion decided to sell his catch to London, with the help of his new friend Jude (a London based portrait photographer, the pair met when Jude was on a sustainable fishing shoot in North Wales) with the view to shorten supply chains for the better. At first using word of mouth and WhatsApp groups they started to take orders from Jude’s network in London. The plan was to sell to neighbours and friends and before they knew it they had gone viral on social media!
A ton of lobsters have now been sold. The mission for Lockdown Lobsters is to continue beyond the pandemic. Through Sion’s network, they hope to work with other fishermen to maximise the opportunity of shortening supply chain and get the UK eating affordable and
fresh native lobsters. Sion Williams is a third-generation lobster fisherman, and his father
still helps him get his boat out every day.
South East England
Julie Waites, Seafish
The Cockle season is under way, and an exciting time as the Thames Estuary Cockles Fishery is now Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified. Fourteen licensed cockle vessels share the total allowable catch between them, fishing off the coast of Essex during July to September and at one site off the coast of Kent during October only. The fishery operates out of three ports in England – Leigh on Sea in Essex, and Whitstable and Queenborough, Kent. In 2019 these three ports landed 8,793 tonnes of cockles.
Osborne’s in Leigh-on-Sea will see the family boat Mary Amelia land cockles this week. Fifth generation for the business Andrew Lawrence said ‘It’s an exciting time with our new factory and the landings now MSC certified from the Thames Estuary Fishery, it is a great achievement and we are very proud’.
The Thames Estuary cockle fishery is the sixth MSC certified cockle fishery in the North Atlantic and is one of four based in the UK.
This week is Maritime Safety Week and it sees the start of a new safety campaign on Tuesday 7th July. Home and Dry has been created by the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG). The FISG is a stakeholder group, whose aim is to improve the safety of commercial fishing at sea. The site can be found here.