You can read in the press and hear from environmental groups about commercial fishing, and the damage it has done to our planet. We wholeheartedly agree that there shouldn’t be anywhere in the world where the oceans are exploited to collapse.
However, that doesn’t have to mean that we all have to stop eating fish, or ban commercial fishing. What it does mean is that all of us need to think carefully about where we buy our fish, who we buy our fish from, and what species of fish we choose. We also need to understand why all commercial fishing is not created equal.
Our unique location in Brixham, based right on the quay by the fishing fleet, gives us incredible access to the people at the forefront of commercial fishing in the south west. These people in this small community are fishing commercially, but on a completely different scale than you may have seen in the news. To put it in some kind of perspective, the value of landings here in Brixham are around 60million per year, all from British boats. The Tokyo fish market by comparison is landing 4billion yen, and at Vigo in Spain the value of the landings is over a billion Euro. It is this huge scale fishing that is risking the future of our fish, and our oceans.
Fishing boats in the south west are strictly managed by quotas, days at sea and react to the ever changing scientific data to make sure there is fish today, and plenty of fish in the future. They manage all of this as well as the vagaries of the British weather, that dictates whether or not they can fish at all.
We are proud to support this local community and know all of the boats personally that we buy from. We are constantly amazed by the efforts they are making towards sustainable practices and the new innovations that are emerging designed to protect the marine environment.
We also work with the MSC, and buy species that you can’t find in south west waters from MSC certified fisheries. This is fishing on a larger scale than here in Brixham but is still a million miles away from the huge scale of boats that land in Tokyo. The incredibly tight controls of the Marine Stewardship Council ensures that sustainability can be done at size and their fisheries are very closely managed. Even with this larger scale fishing, we still get to know the boats and the skippers on a personal basis, and only ever buy from people we know and trust.
Can commercial fishing and sustainability go together? If it’s done at a manageable scale, with clear environmental controls, by people who care about the future of fishing – yes.