Supertrawlers vs. small-scale fishers
Tuesday, 25th May 2021 by Kerry Rankine
Yorworths fish stall

Regular shoppers at the farmers' market may have noticed a decline in the amount of fish on sale last Saturday from our fisherfolk Martin and Wendi, whose two small boats fish in the waters up to 6 miles off Newhaven. Martin, like many of the fishers who go out from Newhaven harbour, has been out looking for fish every day over the last few weeks and found almost none. The sea is almost empty of the fish that should be prolific at this time of year.

Supertrawler trouble

Greenpeace has been in the area, drawing attention to the supertrawlers that are back off the Sussex coast using mile-long nets that scoop up everything, often injuring marine mammals at the same time. Martin and Greenpeace believe that his type of day-boat fishing, often using lines to catch sea bass and mackerel, is sustainable. But now the supertrawlers have been in, there is very little left for small fishers like Martin to catch. You can read more about Greenpeace's campaign here and you can support a more sustainable form of fishing by buying direct from Wendi at the market. Last week they had to buy in fish from fishers further down the coast to keep the business going.

What can you do?

This truly is another typical David and Goliath scenario that is all too familiar in the food industry. If you can, sign the petition and do your bit: buy your seafood from trusted sources, such as the farmers' market and Soleshare and familiarise yourself with the Good Fish Guide. If you do find yourself buying fish at a supermarket or typical fishmongers, seek out MSC certification wherever possible but proceed with scepticism. It always helps to strike up a conversation with the fishmonger to find out where they source their fish from - the size of the boats and fishing methods tell you a lot about how sustainable it is, and the depth of the retailer's knowledge will be a clue to how seriously they take the issues.

Author name: 
Kerry Rankine