PUBLISHED: 10:48 07 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:57 30 August 2017

Handline mackerel fishing by phil Lockley

Handline mackerel fishing by phil Lockley

The Good Seafood Guide offers great tips on choosing the best fish for you and for the environment

There’s all kinds of seafood in Cornwall - but good seafood tastes the best, writes MATT SLATER Marine Awareness Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Fishing is incredibly important to both Cornwall’s economy and culture and in recent years Cornish seafood has seen a rise in profile thanks to the county’s fabulous chefs, however many local people have fallen out of the habit of regularly eating Cornish fish. Even today the majority of landings to our ports are still being exported and as a result the industry is at the mercy of foreign and often unreliable markets.

An exciting new project led by Cornwall Wildlife Trust which aims to encourage us all to eat more sustainable, locally-caught seafood has been creating quite a buzz in the industry since its launch in April at Harbour Lights Fish and Chip Shop in Falmouth. The Cornwall Good Seafood Guide is a unique, new, online guide which will help us all make informed choices when choosing Cornish seafood. Produced by the Trust in partnership with Cornish fishermen and using the Marine Conservation Society’s seafood rating system, the guide is packed with information on fish species, fishing methods and even features a directory of where to purchase quality local seafood.

The Cornwall Good Seafood Guide is the product of over two years’ work, and is the most detailed local survey of sustainable fish in the UK. It can be found at cornwallgoodseafoodguide.org.uk and aims to provide a user-friendly resource to encourage locals and visitors alike to buy Cornish.

Knowing which fish to buy can be a complicated issue but this fantastic new resource will be constantly updated so that consumers as well as those in the fishing and food industries can plainly see the best and most sustainable choices. It is hoped that this new guide will help to promote demand for local, sustainably caught fish, which in turn will help to secure a sustainable future for both our fish stocks and our fishermen. The website brings together a huge amount of information on Cornwall’s fish stocks and fishing industry, all of which can now be accessed in one place for the first time.

With such a complex subject as fisheries it can be difficult to work out how environmentally friendly a fishery is, so Cornwall Wildlife Trust are working with an independent advisory board that includes fishermen’s representatives, restaurateurs, fish processors and merchants, representatives from Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and academics from the University of Exeter. The decision was made to apply sound local data and knowledge and information to an existing and trusted system of analysing fisheries developed by the Marine Conservation Society.

As a result all Cornwall Good Seafood Guide scores are directly comparable with other fisheries scored by the Marine Conservation Society from all around the world.

For those who are looking for inspiration the website also features great recipes for local seafood. Many were donated by talented local chefs including Andy Appleton of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, Jamie Porter of St Moritz Hotel and Sanjay Kumar of the Headland Hotel. There is also a fascinating meet the fishermen’ section featuring video profiles of local fishermen, giving them an opportunity to tell us why they feel their fishing is sustainable.

Many fish stocks are in fact far better managed now than they were 20 years ago and fishermen are continually improving the way they work to reduce their impact on the environment. The new website highlights these improvements and it is hoped it will encourage further improvement in the future.

Times have changed and few of us living in Cornwall are lucky enough to know a local fisherman to buy their seafood from but social media is a fantastic tool that the industry is increasingly using to reconnect with the public. Cornwall Good Seafood Guide features a directory of companies who support the project which will help the public source fresh, Cornish, sustainable seafood and make it easier for people to find good fresh local seafood.

Newlyn fisherman Kevin Penney and his team of local inshore fishermen known as Dreckly Fish is one example of a local business which has demonstrated the massive potential of social media in marketing sustainable seafood. The fishermen work together and they now sell all of their catch direct to chefs and consumers using Twitter. People are responding really well as they guarantee the freshness, sustainability and traceability of their catch. We hope to see more such initiatives around the county which will help us all to reconnect with our local fishing industry.

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide have created a great logo which can now be licenced to be used by businesses to highlight species and capture methods recommended by the website. Look out for the recommended logo on fishmongers’ counters, restaurant menus and on packaging and websites.If you run a business that sells Cornish seafood then please get in touch.

Over all the project looks set to really help those Cornish fishermen who are making real improvements to the way they fish and who are seeing the benefits of better fisheries management. Fishermen are the guardians of our seas and have the most to gain from improved practices which safeguard future livelihoods as well as helping the marine ecosystem as a whole. By buying local you have the power to reward the best practice and in time to incentivise further improvements for the future of all of our marine life.

Some tips for how to choose good’ local seafood:

always ask for locally caught Cornish seafood that is in season

always ask how it was caught

be open to try something different

look out for the CGSG Recommended logo which is displayed in participating restaurants and fishmongers. w

The Cornwall Good Seafood Guide is funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), which receives investment from the European Fisheries Fund and the Marine Management Organisation. It is managed by Cornwall Development Company.


About the author

Matt Slater is Marine Awareness Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Matt grew up in Cornwall and spent his childhood rockpooling fishing and sailing.

After graduating with a degree in marine biology from the University of Liverpool Matt worked as a fisherman for six months on a range of different fishing boats before accepting a job at Weymouth sealife centre.

He worked in the public aquarium industry and spent 11 years as curator of Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay before taking a job with Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Matt is passionate about our seas and feels that working with fishermen is the future of for marine conservation. It’s not us against them, conservationists and fishermen have a huge amount in common and we need to be working far more closely with the fishing industry, towards a shared goal of; healthy seas and productive fisheries.’

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