Brixham lands £28million record catch
BRIXHAM landed a record amount of fish and shellfish last year and is already on course to break that record again.
In 2012 fish worth £28million was landed compared with £26million in 2011.
Jim Portus (pictured), chief executive South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said: "It's a remarkable success story. The people who invested in Brixham are already seeing the rewards. The quality is second to none.
"The port has a bright future. Brixham is not resting on its laurels."
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Quota for Dover sole has been increased by 15 per cent for 2013, landings last year were £3.5million. £5million worth of scallops were landed in 2012 along with £3million of cuttlefish and £1.5million of lemon sole. Crabs landed in Kingswear and Salcombe were worth another £3million.
Mr Portus said: "That's amazing as long as the export buyers pay the bills, but could we sell it in the UK? We import thousands and thousands of tonnes of haddock and cod into this country, but we have the top quality fish in Brixham if only we would eat it."
He pointed out only 40 per cent of the fish landed by the producer organisation members are subject to quota limits on the amount caught.
Members using towed gear, such as beam trawls, are striving to achieve certification for the way they catch fish, and are hoping for Marine Stewardship Council accreditation.
Through a fishing responsibility scheme they are reducing the length of time they are towing gear on the seabed, and making sure they have sufficient ice to preserve the catch.
"Ultimately we want to provide a far better product to the consumer," he said. "The key words for Brixham are quality, innovation in the fishing gear, investment in the harbour and above all pride in what they produce."
Work is under way to reduce discards, improve fuel efficiency and satellite navigation.
He warned new rules on not discarding fish which are caught, but not covered by quotas, could cause problems for small boats.
To dispose of them at the moment, the only fishmeal plant for waste is in Grimsby.
"To load a 40 tonne truck to take it to Grimbsy would take Brixham about a week to fill, imagine the smell at the end of that week during the height of summer," she said. "I don't think that's a particularly good idea for a port that is not only commercial, but a tourism attraction."
Capt Kevin Mowat, director of Torbay Harbour marine services, said the success of the fishing industry means more income for the self funding Tor Bay Harbours.
He expected the harbours would be able to contribute six per cent of their income towards the council's budget.