Seasonal and Sustainable Seafood – November’s Mussels

Seasonal and Sustainable Seafood – November’s Mussels

Sustainability plays a major part in determining what fish are landed at Plymouth Fisheries every day. Sustainable seafood means it is either fished or farmed in a responsible way, which maintains or improves the population and quality of the fish. Using seasonal and sustainable seafood is an important step to ensuring the longevity of the fishing industry.

French Students tour Plymouth Fisheries

A group of French students enjoyed the opportunity to see behind the scenes at Plymouth Fisheries, the second largest fresh fish market in England, during a visit to Britain’s Ocean City this month.

Ten students aged 15 and 16 years old were visiting Plymouth from Brest as part of an Oceans and Sustainability ERASUMUS + Regio Brest-Plymouth project, organised in conjunction with Mayflower College and Plymstock School.

The students, along with their teacher Dominique Baron, visited the fisheries in Sutton Harbour for an early morning tour hosted by Manager Pete Bromley at 6.30am, when fish was being sorted and sold, ready to be delivered to buyers all over the country, with the daily fish auction managed by Plymouth Trawler Agents taking place on the first floor.

The visit helped the students to learn more about how Plymouth Fisheries has become a fisheries hub for the South West, and how it has revitalized the region’s fishing industry in the last two decades since the complex was relocated to custom-built premises on the eastern side of Sutton Harbour in 1995.

Jill Tyler, General Manager of Mayflower College, said: “This group of French students visiting Plymouth were very grateful to be given a personal tour by Pete Bromley so they could see behind the scenes at our city’s thriving fish market, and find out more about how Plymouth Fisheries operates.

“The fisheries is such an important asset for the city, and the visit offered a unique and essential window for our visiting students into how important the fishing industry is to our region, and how Plymouth Fisheries works to manage sustainability on a daily basis.”

Plymouth Fisheries sustains over 600 direct and indirect jobs and is the second largest fresh fish market in England today, with fish landed at other ports across Devon and Cornwall regularly transported to Plymouth to be sold.

The fisheries, which is owned and managed by Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc, contributes £22.6 million into the local economy. Turnover has increased dramatically since the fisheries relocated to its current base, with record landings of £19.4 million in 2014. Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc continues to invest in the complex, with a £1.2million project to install a new chill chain, including a new ice production plant, completed last year.

Pete Bromley, Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: “It’s important to educate people about how the fishing industry works, especially the next generation, and so we regularly welcome private tours for local colleges and schools to help students learn more about the fish supply chain and see the market in action.

“Plymouth Fisheries is passionate about supporting the region’s fishermen, and thanks to the investment in the fisheries in recent years, the complex has become a fisheries hub for the South West, so our role is especially important.”

The students visit to Plymouth Fisheries is one of a number of educational tours hosted by Pete Bromley and Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc to support ongoing education about the fishing industry to the next generation.

In recent months, the fisheries has hosted tours for business students from Plymouth University, as well as year 7 pupils from the Plymouth School of Creative Arts.


A pioneering ethical fishmonger business helping to support local fishermen has opened its first hub in Plymouth.

Sole of Discretion launched at Plymouth Fisheries, the second largest fresh fish market in England based within a large, purpose-built complex in Sutton Harbour.

The business is a social enterprise dreamt up by acclaimed restaurateur Caroline Bennett, who opened the country’s first rotating sushi restaurant in London in 1994 which is still going strong.

Sole of Discretion was born out of a determination by Caroline to put more ethically sourced fish on restaurant menus – and to reward the fishermen who fish with environmental sensitivity, helping to protect the marine environment.

The initiative will operate as a Community Interest Company (CIC), with shares wholly owned by the fishermen. Individuals will be able to buy high quality, ethically sourced fish directly from the Sole of Discretion hub at Plymouth Fisheries, and fresh fish will be supplied to customers, including national restaurants. The company will work closely with the marine biology department at Exeter University and the science and engineering faculty at Plymouth University to support research.

The first secured customer is acclaimed nationwide food box provider Riverford, which has agreed an order for two tonnes of fresh fish a week.

Sole of Discretion founder Caroline Bennett said: “I’ve been actively trying to source good quality fish for my restaurants for years, and there are many good fishers out there, looking after the quality of their catch and fishing with environmental sensitivity.

“Yet they get the same market-driven prices as everyone else – and many are on the verge of giving up. On top of this, the mainstream supply chain can slow down the delivery of fish, and many fish counters can’t tell customers when their fish was landed, or by which boat – sometimes even in which country.

“Sole of Discretion will create a mechanism to financially reward the fishermen who are the best custodians of our seas, and we’ll get fresh, high quality fish dispatched or frozen within hours of the catch being landed. Sole of Discretion will put provenance, quality and fairness at the heart of its business model.”


After launching a successful Crowdfunder initiative to fund part of the first Sole of Discretion hub, Caroline’s aim is for more hubs to open at other UK locations, creating a nationwide collective of distribution channels for the inshore fishers.

Caroline said she chose Plymouth Fisheries as the location for the first hub for its great facilities on site, and because of the strong working relationships that the auction operator, Plymouth Trawler Agents (PTA), enjoys with the local fishermen.

Caroline Bennett said: “Plymouth Fisheries is a fantastic location and our unit is so close to the quayside and the auction room; the support I’ve had from the PTA and the fisheries team has been wonderful and I’m very excited to launch the business in Plymouth with the hope that it will eventually expand to the wider country.

“We’re not out to undermine the already excellent work that the PTA is doing; Plymouth is the best place in the country for fishermen to land and sell a catch.

“Sole of Discretion is an enterprise designed for the fishermen, and one of our biggest aims is to take the fluctuation out of fishing; one day a fishermen can get a good price for a catch, the next day a bad price. I want to take that away. Only time will tell if we will succeed and whether fishermen feel working with us enhances their income, or if they would rather go to auction – I appreciate what we’re suggesting goes against the grain of years of inherited practice.

“But as the fishermen working with the business will also own the company, they will also earn money in dividends, and this will hopefully be of benefit to the fishermen themselves, as well as to the customers and to the environment.”

Sole of Discretion started trading at the end of April, and customers will be welcome to visit the hub, based at Unit 5 of Plymouth Fisheries in Fish Quay, from mid-May, once chillers are installed in the building.

Plymouth Fisheries has revitalised the region’s fishing industry since the complex was built in Fish Quay 21 years ago by owners and operators Sutton Harbour Holdings plc.

Now the second largest fish market in England, Plymouth Fisheries sustains more than 600 direct and indirect jobs and contributes £22.6million a year to the city’s economy, selling more than 6,000 tonnes of fish every year.

Pete Bromley, Harbour Master and Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sole of Discretion to Plymouth Fisheries to complement the range of fishmongers and fish merchants based in the complex.

“Since we opened 21 years ago, Plymouth Fisheries has been passionate about supporting the fishermen and the fishing industry, and we work in close partnership with Plymouth Trawler Agents to ensure the fisheries is the best place in the country to land and sell a catch, with a passionate commitment to ensuring our fishermen can get the best possible price for the fish they land, and a fair deal.

“Sole of Discretion will offer something new to both the fishermen and the customer, and we wish the business well as it becomes established in Plymouth.”


Repairs to the lock gates at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth will begin next month and continue into March.

Part of the seal was damaged last year when the lock gates were struck by a vessel, and following dive surveys undertaken to assess the damage, a schedule for the necessary repairs has now been agreed.

Work will start on Monday 15th February with a conclusion planned for March 15th, depending on progress. Repairs will be carried out between 8am and 6pm each day, including weekends.

Boats will only be able to enter and leave Sutton Harbour during published freeflow times within this period, subject to weather and technical conditions.

The lock gates will be closed to all traffic on February 26th, 27th and March 4th for specialist work to be carried out.

Harbour users have been notified of the repair dates and are being asked to monitor the Sutton Harbour Holdings website and social media feeds in case of any alternations to the planned schedule.

There may be some interruptions for pedestrians using the footbridge crossing the lock gates during this period should crane work be required as part of the repairs on the south gates.

Pete Bromley, Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour, said: “Unfortunately, impacts like this collision can happen in a busy harbour, and it is necessary to repair the damage caused to the lock gates to ensure they remain fully operational. We have organised a schedule for repairs which aims to minimise any disruption to harbour users as much as possible.”

The repairs will be overseen by the Environment Agency, which has joint maintenance responsibility for the bridge and lock gates with harbour owner and operator Sutton Harbour Holdings plc.

You can view the Lock Freeflow guides

For full updates throughout February and March, please visit or follow @ExperienceSH on Twitter.

Rare fish caught off South Devon coast to join Plymouth Museum collection

An extremely rare fish landed at Plymouth Fisheries is destined to be preserved as a specimen in the city’s museum.


                                                                Doug Herdson  and Harbour Master Pete Bromley

                                                               Doug Herdson  and Harbour Master Pete Bromley

Local beam trawler Our Miranda caught the 440 gram comber on November 16th whilst fishing off Start Point on the South Devon coastline and landed it at Plymouth Fisheries in Sutton Harbour, the second largest fresh fish market in England, where staff spotted it was unusual and contacted rare fish expert Doug Herdson. 

Doug Herdson, a fish and fisheries biologist and author based in Plymouth, said: “I go down to the fish market regularly to see what is being caught so I can keep up to date on what’s happening with various species to give me an understanding of fish distribution and fish stocks, and Nick at the fish market found this comber in a catch so I went down to check it out.

“It’s a very rare specimen and the first one I have ever seen myself; these fish are a fairly obscure species and generally only found in warmer waters, so it’s really unusual for one to turn up off the Devon coast, and an exciting find for Plymouth.”

The comber is a species of fish belonging to the Serranidae family, the same family as the better-known grouper, which grow to a much larger size. The comber is generally found off south and west Africa, in the Mediterranean and out to the the Azores, as it is an East Atlantic species, and only about 50 have turned up in British and Irish waters in the last 150 years.

The largest comber ever found in UK waters was caught in Mounts Bay, Cornwall in 1977 and weighed 822 grams; more recently, a smaller specimen turned up in a crab pot off Mevagissey in June 1996.

Doug added: “The comber landed in Plymouth was 440 grams which is about normal size. I contacted the National History Museum which was happy to take the specimen but they already had a few there so it was agreed the fish would go instead to Plymouth Museum, which didn’t already have any combers, and they were delighted as it is an unusual fish to add to the museum’s collection.”

Pete Bromley, Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: “The comber is an uncommon fish and a very rare find in British waters; we were very happy for Doug to organise for this specimen to find a home in Plymouth Museum, so people living locally will be able to see it for themselves.

“Combers never get especially big, and this one was of average size. They would make perfectly good eating but they are too small to make much of a meal usually.”


Plymouth Fisheries has showcased its ice production facility completed as part of a £1.2million project to support the region’s vital fishing industry to some of the organisations which helped to secure funding for the scheme.

The ice plant unveiled this spring at England’s second largest fresh fish market based in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour is part of an ongoing £1.2m investment in the complex by owners Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, and has been part-funded by grants totaling more than £500,000 from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

Senior officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the MMO and the programme monitoring committee for the European Fisheries Fund and its successor, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), visited Plymouth Fisheries on Thursday 19th November to see the completed development and learn more about plans for the future.

A group of 22 people including officials from Defra’s EMFF Policy team, the EMFF UK Managing Authority, UK Co-ordinating Body and the MMO were joined by representatives from the Association of Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities, Cornwall Fisheries Local Action Group, Seafish, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, British Port Authority and British Trout Association for the visit, which was hosted by the Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, Pete Bromley.

After touring the ice plant facility, the visitors were taken on a boat trip before returning to Sutton Harbour for lunch and a short presentation by Sutton Harbour Holdings Chief Executive Jason Schofield on future plans for the fisheries complex and the area’s regeneration.

Michelle Willis, MMO Chief Finance Officer who has responsibility for overseeing both the UK and England European Fisheries Fund (EFF) programme, said: “It is always great to be able to visit places like Plymouth Fisheries and see the difference funding from the European Fisheries Fund can make to the fishing industry.

European funding provides a vital link to fishing communities and it is rewarding to see the change it is making to peoples’ lives.”

The ongoing £1.2million investment in Plymouth Fisheries has enabled a new ice plant to be created at the fisheries complex to guarantee the provision of ice on site 24 hours a day, offering an essential service to the region’s fishermen.

A further £30,000 is being invested in updating facilities at the fisheries complex, including a major upgrade of the external lighting systems.

Pete Bromley, Harbour Master and Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: The entire fishing industry depends on a constant supply of ice so it was vital that Plymouth Fisheries replaced the old plant to meet the needs of fishermen using the complex.

“We were delighted to welcome senior officials from the MMO and Defra who secured the European Fisheries Fund grants which have helped to make this investment possible, and to show them around the completed chill chain project which includes the ice plant, a brand new chiller, and the complete refurbishment of existing chiller facilities. The addition of a second chiller has increased fish handling capacity by around 50 per cent.”

Plymouth Fisheries has revitalised the local fishing industry since the purpose-built complex was opened in Fish Quay by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc 20 years ago.

Now the second largest fish market in England, a recent independent report revealed that Plymouth Fisheries supports 565 jobs and contributes £22.6million a year to the city’s economy. 

Jason Schofield, Chief Executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, said: Plymouth Fisheries is committed to supporting the region’s fishing industry and doing anything we can to improve the service we provide to local fisherman to help this industry grow and thrive.

“The EFF grant was instrumental in helping to fund the much-needed new ice plant, which will transform the facilities we can offer in Sutton Harbour and enable Plymouth’s fish market to strengthen its already impressive national position, and we were proud to showcase the results of this investment to those who helped make this project possible.”

Sutton Harbour generates £28m a year for city economy

Marine related businesses in and around Plymouth’s historic Sutton Harbour support more than 770 jobs and pump £28 million a year into the local economy, according to a new independent report.

And next May’s prestigious Transat single-handed yacht race – which will use Sutton Harbour as its base – could generate over £110,000 a day in additional spending from visitors to the city, based on previous events.

The figures are contained in a report drawn up by national development and infrastructure consultants Peter Brett Associates.

They were appointed to look at the economic value of Sutton Harbour’s fishing and marina activities to the Plymouth economy, and the potential spin-off benefits of staging events like the Transat and the annual Classic Boat Rally in the Harbour.

The study was commissioned by Harbour owners Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, which owns and operates Plymouth Fisheries and The Marina at Sutton Harbour.

It shows that Plymouth Fisheries, which includes the second biggest fish market in England, supports 565 jobs and contributes £22.6 million a year to the city’s economy. The Marina supports a further 205 jobs in Plymouth and contributes £5.6 million every year.

The report also assesses the potential impact of high profile one-off events like the Transat and finds that it could generate up to £1.1 million of additional spending (excluding residents), or more than £110,000 a day based on a 10-day event. Such spending supports many of the restaurant, retail and accommodation jobs around Sutton Harbour.

Jason Schofield, chief executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, said: “Sutton Harbour is where the city of Plymouth started and this report shows the enormous contribution that the Harbour makes to the economy of Britain’s Ocean City, and how quality events can attract significant visitor spend.

“The Harbour and the waterfront are real economic drivers. Our own vision for Sutton Harbour shows how using 12 redundant sites for homes, offices, shops, hotels and restaurants could attract £75 million of construction investment and support a further 900 jobs and add £34 million to Plymouth’s economy every year.

“Plymouth’s spectacular waterfront is its biggest asset and Sutton Harbour is right at the heart of it. We want to work with our partners in the city to realise this potential, cementing its reputation as a destination of regional importance and national significance.”

The report was officially unveiled at a Plymouth Chamber of Commerce breakfast event at the National Marine Aquarium and its findings are being circulated to hundreds of stakeholders across the city this week.

Sutton Harbour Holdings plc is hoping to accelerate its investment in Plymouth’s waterfront by realising an acceptable value from its interest in the former airport site in the north of the city.

The Company recently published research from economic research consultancy Regeneris showing how the redundant airport site could meet 10% of the city’s housing need, create hundreds of full-time jobs and generate tens of millions of pounds for the economy every year. It could also create a one-off windfall for Plymouth City Council in excess of £50 million because of the council’s freehold interest.

Sutton Harbour Holdings plc is seeking to have the former airport site included in the Plymouth Plan as a regeneration site that could make a significant contribution to Plymouth’s economy.