Brown Crab - a tasty, sustainable seafood

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Brown crab is a species of crab which can be found in waters all the way from Norway in the North Sea down through the English Channel and along to the coast of Portugal.

As the nation’s favourite crustacean, brown crab is commonly eaten whole, in crab cakes, or used in a range of seafood dishes. Crabs contain both brown and white meat. The soft, flavoursome brown meat tends to be the most popular choice for dishes with the white meat having a slightly more delicate flavour.

Brown crab is actually one of the most sustainable seafood species you can choose all year around. This is due to its widespread distribution, quick reproduction rate and the use of crab pots by fishermen to catch them. Crab pots limit the damage to the seabed which can be caused by some fishing methods. They also make it easier for fishermen to return any unwanted or undersized catches back to the sea.  

The stocks of brown crab in the South West have remained healthy thanks to good fishing practises and regulations. Each year, hundreds of kilos of crab is landed at Plymouth Fisheries before being sold to local businesses or transported further afield. If you are interested in purchasing crab landed at Plymouth Fisheries contact two of our leading fish merchants based at the Fisheries Complex - Rex Down Fish Merchants or Moby Nicks.

When buying crab it is important to ensure that it is fresh and recently caught. Don’t buy crabs which are already dead ideally, as they are best cooked immediately after killing. You can always ask your fishmonger to kill the crab for you just before you take it home, if you are not comfortable with taking them home alive.

Fresh brown crab is easy to cook however – and if you buy them live, the RSPCA recommend freezing a crab for at least two hours before cooking, in order to render them unconscious first. The crab can then be placed legs down into a pan containing boiling water or stock. Simmer in the pan for 12 minutes per kilo of crab before removing the pan from the heat and enjoying, or leaving to cool if you’re using the crab meat in a recipe.

Preparing crab meat can be messy and does require some manual work.

BBC Good Food provide a great step by step guide on how to prepare crab which can be found online. After the crab has been deshelled and the meat has been prepared it can be used in a dish of your choice.

You can find a selection of recipes which use crab meat on Fish is the Dish’s website here.

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.

PLYMOUTH FISHERIES WELCOMES NEW ETHICAL FISHMONGER BUSINESS

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.”

SUTTON HARBOUR LOCK GATES TO BE REPAIRED

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 http://www.suttonharbourmarina.com/lock-freeflow-guide/

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