Fisherman and fishmonger from Lyme Regis support mackerel catching debate (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Fisherman and fishmonger from Lyme Regis support mackerel catching debate
A fisherman and a fishmonger from Lyme Regis have backed a move to downgrade ‘hoovered-up’ mackerel from the list of fish suitable to eat.
They join celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, of Axminster’s River Cottage, in urging people to continue to eat mackerel – but only when it is caught on a handline from inshore boats.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has downgraded mackerel from its Fish to Eat list, saying it is no longer a sustainable choice and should only be eaten occasionally.
Fish Fight campaigner Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said that when River Cottage started the Mac Bap campaign two years ago, mackerel was certified as sustainable and part of a well-managed fishery.
“Unfortunately things have changed, and politics and greed are getting in the way of common sense,” he added.
“If the countries involved could agree sensible catch limits this could still be a certified sustainable fishery. We hope that these so called ‘mackerel wars’ can be laid to rest as soon as possible, so we can all go back to eating mackerel again with a clear conscience.
“The Marine Conservation Society is advising that handline-caught mackerel from inshore boats is the best choice to make when eating mackerel, and at our River Cottage Cookery School and canteens we will continue to serve south west handline caught mackerel on an occasional basis, as we do not wish to withdraw our support from small-scale local fishermen who are catching mackerel in the most sustainable way possible.”
Lyme fisherman Harry May said: “I am quite happy that mackerel have been removed from the list of sustainable fish. The slaughter of these fish goes on and on, week in week out, and the recommendation now is that we should only try and eat mackerel caught on hook and line.
“Modern fishing methods now allow a trawler, using a net that would envelope St Paul’s Cathedral, to scoop up every single mackerel in that shoal. The fish are then sucked out of the water and into the trawler.
“Mackerel has become increasingly popular thanks to the health benefits of eating oily fish.
“So taking a Lyme Regis mackerel fishing trip is an enjoyable, sustainable and thoroughly good way to catch your supper one fish at a time.”
Lyme Regis fishmonger Simon Bennett of The Old Watch House fresh fish shops said: “ Is it okay to still eat line-caught local mackerel?
“Absolutely. And the authorities also say so if you look beyond some headlines – but to help sustain the fish you must buy fish that haven’t been ‘hoovered’ off the seabed.
“Mackerel’s been the fresh, health-giving fish of the west since man first fished here. There’s still plentiful mackerel so long as we fish like fishermen and not as industrialists.”