I keep asking myself the question; will there be Cornish fish for my son Jack to cook with his children in future? For some years I had cause for concern about the prospects for fish and fishing around our coasts but now, from the messages I hear from those that are in the know, the answer to this question has to be a resounding YES!
I ask your indulgence for me jumping on to my "fish box" but I am regularly approached by seafood lovers who are concerned as to whether they should eat fish any more. It seemed appropriate in this issue to offer my thoughts and overview on the matter, as it is at this time of the year fishermen look at the fishing quotas handed down to them by Europe. These decisions directly effect the fish they may catch and what seafood we are allowed to enjoy in the forthcoming year.
It is widely accepted that the European common fisheries policy has not served fish or fishing communities in any positive way since its inception nearly forty years ago. There is also little doubt that in the past, we have harvested more fish from our waters than was prudent. There are strong signs indicating we have very significant increases in the numbers of fish that surround our shores and part the reason must lie in more local management of fishing fleets. There is also a very real commitment from our fishermen to create a sustainable future for fish and fishing, thereby supporting their communities who rely so heavily for a living on the seafood landed to their home ports.
The message for 2010 has to be, "it's OK to eat fish from south west waters". The exciting news from the fish markets is that local boats continue to find good fishing during their trips to sea and land super quality tasty fresh fish daily. If you feel strongly about the provenance of the foods you enjoy at your dinner table, ask your fishmonger where he buys his fish from; why suffer the disappointment of older well travelled fish when we have such an abundance of great seafood available from local waters. Newlyn, Looe, Plymouth and Brixham are the major south west fish markets; at these ports a huge variety of the finest fish in the seas are sold at auction early each morning, prepared and boxed in ice ready to make its way overnight to fish counters across the country.
Make one of your new year's resolutions to buy more local fish. My suggestion is to be more adventurous with the fish you eat, there is an abundance of it available to enjoy that is undervalued and awaits discovery by seafood lovers.
News update - NORTH SEA COD STOCKS ARE UP! 15th May 2010
I was thrilled to see and article from the Independent claiming that the mighty north sea cod may soon be back on our dinner tables.
Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent reported "In a rare wildlife conservation success story, the charity WWF said the fish renowned for its flaky white chunks was being caught sustainably off the shallow cold waters of north and eastern Britain for the first time in a decade. Stocks of the fish have risen by 52 per cent from their historic low four years ago because of a combination of cuts in landing quotas, and conservation techniques which have reduced the number tossed back dead into the sea".