The Fish Fight

Channel 4's Fish Fight programmes are well into their stride now; rest assured The Cornish Fishmonger has registered its support with Hugh's Fish Fight and will continue to lobby for a stop to this ridiculous situation!

There is a serious issue highlighted within his programme that Cornwall has been arguing for many years and will continue to do so in the coming year. We need a policy surrounding fishing that supports fish and fishermen! Our industry has battled with the quota system for over years with only moderate successes of late. The future of fishing depends on a multilateral policy based on "a fish caught is a fish landed" producing transparency in what fish is being caught. Fishermen are not stupid; they are very well aware of the dangers of ineffective conservation's their livelihood!

Here in the south-west and particularly in Cornwall, we do not suffer the high "discard" rates North Sea fishermen have to tolerate. Wednesday (13th) channel programme showed London Chef Arthur at sea on The Cornishman, on of Newlyn's trawlers. It was clear for all viewers to see, that discards aboard this vessel were a fraction of the volumes suffered in the North Sea. Work continues as I write to improve net designs so even less fish is wasted.

Here in the Celtic seas and specifically in Cornish waters, we have enjoyed a very significant rise in fish stocks (including Cod)! I believe this is on no small way due to the investment Cornish fishermen have made over the last six years. Cornish fishermen are proud to have led the way in Europe by creating the first "no take zone" within European waters. This sanctuary for spawning fish known as the Trevose Box, is fifteen hundred square miles of sea located off the north Cornish coast. 2011 will be the sixth consecutive year that fishermen have sacrificed valuable fishing opportunities for the benefit of creating long term sustainable fish stocks. Closed to all commercial fishing boats during the breeding season for most native species such as Cod, Haddock, Plaice and Dover sole to name but a few, this must be the largest sanctuary for spawning fish in Europe!

Fishermen now talk of a "wall of Cod" lying between Cardiff and Land's End and a dearth of Haddock deep of the Isles of Scilly. This phenomenon is almost certainly due to years of investment and sacrifice by our fishermen.

So, what does this translate into for seafood lovers? Make seafood a part of your menus at home and when eating out. Fresh fish from south western waters is a sustainable healthy and tasty option for the foreseeable future.

Be brave - be discerning - be green in your choices of seafood! Don't stick with the same old names; vary the types of fish you purchase. Challenge your fishmonger to source different type's fish for you; perhaps hand-line Mackerel or inshore local Sardines. Break out your favourite recipe book, scour the pages for inspiration. Remember - less is more in great fish cookery.......enjoy!