Cornwall Life meets a Padstow fisherman with an eye on the future

PUBLISHED: 09:49 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:12 26 February 2013

Johnny Murt on board his boat Homarus in Padstow. <br/><br/>Photo: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Johnny Murt on board his boat Homarus in Padstow. <br/><br/>Photo: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Johnny Murt casts his net to try and teach us all about the seas having returns from the United States where he studied for a Masters Degree in Fisheries Conservation

Johnny casts his net to try and teach us all about the seas

For Johnny Murt, fishing is the family firm and thats confirmed as he looks out across Padstow Harbour at the assembled trawlers, writes Andy Cooper.
Thats my brothers boat across there, then theres my uncles and my dads alongside, he reveals as we look at the lines of boats moored alongside the quay. I virtually grew up on the water round here. I reckon the first time I went out to see I was about 12 and I went out with my granddad.
And although he might be still out on the water now at the age of 35, unlike many of his contemporaries, Johnny has spent a considerable period of time away from these shores.
Its only latterly that he has returned to Padstow where he is a familiar sight on his boat Homarus (Latin for lobster) heading out to sea to not only secure another catch, but also aiming to turn his fishing skills into an educational experience.
Because Johnny is now bringing to the waters his not inconsiderable experience as a student of marine conservation to teach people, particularly those involved in the food business, about sustainable fishing.
Having fished out of Padstow 14 years ago Johnny left the industry to study fisheries conservation. He subsequently stayed on and studied for his masters degree in the same subject in the United States.
Then, after several years working in marine biology in the States he returned to the UK to take a fisheries policy position with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in Aberdeen.
I had a fantastic career and I was really enjoying putting what I hard learned into practice, he says. Id had some amazing jobs and really enjoyed my time working in America, but after a while I started to feel like I wanted to do something different with what I had learned and experienced.
That something different is North Cornish catch, Johnnys venture which combines his role as a working fisherman trawling for catch just like anyone else with his passion for teaching sustainable practices. There are a lot of myths and false statements about what sustainable really means, adds Johnny. There are those who say you cant trawl in certain places in the seas, but sometimes the natural conditions which can occur in storms or the like have just the same affect as a trawl.
We are all co-existing on the planet and I want to use my knowledge and experience to make sure people have a greater appreciation of where fish and seafood comes from, what its habitat is and how this can ultimately be fished sustainably.
I am getting lots of interest from the restaurant industry and have trips lined up for Fifteen Cornwall trainees and Restaurant Nathan Outlaw.
I also offer a range of experiences for the general public to really experience a day at sea - or just a couple of hours to go lobstering, to get a better understanding of where our sea food comes from.
There is surely something unique about Johnnys desire to combine his passion this way and he feels he is on to something. I definitely think that there is a place for this type of boat-based learning and was surprised that there was nothing like it already operating in the UK.

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