Over the past 10 years the issues of sustainable seafood have been high on the agenda of public opinion and have become a key part of the consumer’s decision as to which type of seafood to buy.
We see lots of products that claim to be “line caught” and “day boat” however the reality is that day boat fishermen receive only 4% of the annual fish quotas. So everyone claiming to sell day boat fish can’t possibly be doing so.
As part of the commitment we make to our customer we aim to provide the freshest, most environmentally sound seafood we can. So last week I took a trip down to Newlyn in Cornwall and Brixham in Devon to meet fishermen and fish suppliers, see the situation for myself and hunt down the best seafood in Britain.
You may ask “why the south west and not the east coast?” The simple answer is volume and variety. Both Newlyn and Brixham land more species of fish than any other markets in the country and in significant volume, so it is the number one place to go.
So on Monday 6am I was on Newlyn fish market watching the many boxes of hake, mackerel and squid being sold by the auctioneer. It wasn’t a great day with bad weather over the weekend but the quality of the fish was excellent.
One of the main reasons to go down to Newlyn was to meet Kevin Penny of Drecklyfish: an organisation of 4 ‘day boat’ fishermen who, rather than putting their fish on the market, sell direct to the wholesale and restaurant trade.
The fish they land is so fresh and can be with us in Harrogate within 24 hours of it being caught. Big respect to Kevin and his colleagues who fish up to 6 miles out at sea in small open boats. Solo fishing is truly the most dangerous job in the world.
We also met Saul and Abi of Wild Harbour Seafoods: a similar organisation of up to 20 ‘day boat’ fishermen who only catch using hand line or new eco trawl nets.
Again the quality is superb and with a wide selection from Bass to Pollock they offer us a truly fantastic range of seafood. This will be with us in Harrogate and Ilkley only 24 hours after catch and provide our customers with a range of the freshest fish.
Of course with all day boat fisheries the catch is hugely dependent on the weather and so we have to accept that this quality may not be available every day.
One of the key elements of buying direct from the fishermen is that they get a fair and consistent price for their fish and proper reward for the work they do and the risks they take.
Meeting the fishermen like Saul and Kevin was fantastic, to see and hear of the passion they have for their industry and their catch is truly exciting and I look forward to working closely with them over the coming weeks and months.
Along with meeting the great fishermen I also met great suppliers such W. Stevenson on Newlyn market and Brixham Seafish based in Brixham who both supply some of the finest seafood from these markets.
We have already seen some of their fine quality fish such as squid and bass shown above, hake, dove sole, mullet, John Dory and mackerel.
The quality of everything I saw on my trip was fabulous and over the coming weeks I look forward to seeing you in our shops buying some of our great quality seafood. Look for the Wild Catch logo on our tickets to guarantee the freshest, fairest and most sustainable seafood in the country.