Scariest fish to eat

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Halloween is upon us and it’s time to spot ghosts and goblins roaming the harbour, vampires looking for their next meal and werewolves howling at the moon. But not all the spooksome creatures can be found on land; the sea is full of scary-looking fish lurking and looking for their next prey, and some of these often end up on people’s plates.

These fish are predominantly seen in Asian and Japanese cuisine and can be very dangerous to us, both at sea and in our stomachs. None of them make an appearance on the fish market floor at Plymouth Fisheries thankfully, but it’s fascinating to know which species are popular catches on the other side of the world, despite the danger they often pose.

Pufferfish

The Pufferfish is renowned for its deadly toxins that prove fatal as they’re 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. Known as Fugu in Japan, it is prepared and served by specialist trained chefs who train for years to remove any dangerous toxins. However, it is recorded that Fugu poisoning causes 30-50 hospitalisations every year.

Stone Fish

Arguably the most venomous fish in the world, Stone Fish are hard to see but you’ll certainly know if you’ve been stung! The spines containing the toxins are removed for cooking so it is safe to eat. These fish can be eaten raw, boiled, or deep-fried and are often found in Asian and tropic cuisine.

Silver-Stripe Blaasop

These fish are a little different to the others. While Pufferfish and Stone Fish are dangerous at sea and safer on your plate, Silver-Stripe Blaasops are quite the opposite. Their insides can cause paralysis when eaten as well as respiratory issues and have caused a recorded 10 fatalities. It’s considered a delicacy in ports across the Indian Ocean, however due to its questionable reputation, we doubt this fish will become the new favourite across Britain.

Moray Eels

Living in shallow waters, these smooth, scale-less fish have sharp teeth but only attack humans when disturbed. They are eaten in a few parts of the world but care must be taken as their flesh can be toxic, causing illness or death.

Piranha

Found in South American waters, Piranhas are notorious for their sharp teeth and carnivorous tendencies. They have exceptional hearing and are attracted to the smell of blood, however human attacks are rare, despite what the movies might make you think. They are predominantly eaten in Brazil and have an extremely ‘fishy’ taste.

Triggerfish

These round fish make up in taste for what they lack in size. They have firm flesh and are more similar to crab than fish. Triggerfish will attack if they feel threatened and will protect their territory and offspring. Their bite is toxic, can cause infection and contains natural poison. They can be found off the shores of the Gulf Coats and in Mediterranean seas.

Thankfully, here at Plymouth Fisheries we offer safe and friendly fish you can tuck into with confidence. We sell 6,000 tonnes of fish per year, none of which feature dangerous toxins, poisons or cause paralysis-inflicting illness. There is nothing creepy about our cod, nothing scary about our salmon, and our Dover Sole isn’t dangerous either.

For more information on our very un-scary fish on offer visit http://www.plymouthfisheries.co.uk/   and go to the recipes and guides page.

Sea creature of the month: Octopus

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The octopus is one of the oldest creatures in our seas, with fossils dating back 296 million years, and their ancestors predate dinosaurs. When we’re young they’re often introduced to us as funny-looking fish that inspired scary, mythical creatures like the Kraken, but how much do we really know about them? Here are a few octopus facts, including the best ways to easily cook them at home.

  1. Starting with their name, octopus derives from the Greek Oktopus meaning ‘eight foot’, signifying their most recognisable feature - their eight arms.

  2. Interestingly, octopuses have not one, not two but three hearts. While one pumps blood around the body, the other two pumps blood through each gill.

  3. Unlike most creatures, their blood is actually coloured blue. This is due to its copper base rather than iron.

  4. One of the most well-known facts about the octopus is that they can squirt ink. This is a technique they use to deter predators as the ink temporarily blinds and confuses the unsuspecting creatures.

  5. Octopuses also have the ability to camouflage themselves to blend with their surroundings, avoiding possible dangers and predators.

  6. Although they have these protection techniques, they actually have quite a short lifespan. Some species only survive six months while others can live as long as five years.

  7. An element that could explain their shortened lives is the facts they often die soon after mating. Once the male has given the female his sperm, he floats off - sometimes literally – and dies a few weeks later, while the female doesn’t live much longer after she lays her eggs.

  8. Octopuses are squishy and actually boneless, so they can squeeze into and out of small, tight spaces. They are also considered to be one of the most intelligent invertebrate species in the world.

Why eat octopus?

The thought of eating octopus might seem strange to some but it’s considered a delicacy in many cultures. Octopus is especially popular in Asian cuisine, while Korean and Chinese foods often feature octopus in some form. In Japan, it is often eaten raw, while in Greece they tend to grill it over an open flame. Although it’s not the most common seafood in the UK, it is slowly growing in popularity.

Eating octopus comes with many health benefits, as it’s high in iron, omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Plus it’s great for anyone calorie counting or wanting to lose weight as it’s low in calories and saturated fat.

A serving of octopus can also provide the entire daily requirement of vitamin B-12, which is essential for metabolism, creating new red blood cells and supporting everyday brain functions. The daily dose of vitamin B-12 is 2.4 micrograms, in a three ounce serving of octopus there’s over 30 micrograms! Not to panic, there’s no severe side effects for consuming too much.

Where can you find octopus?

As it’s not the most common type of fish to appear on the local chippy’s menu, buying octopus can be slightly harder than normal. They’re found to the south and west of the British Isles in rocky areas and shallow waters and are landed in most Cornish ports, according to The Cornish Fishmonger.

If you’re thinking of adding octopus in one of your dinner dishes then it’s probably best to contact your local fishmonger to see if they’re landed nearby and for tips and advice.

Octopus is landed at Plymouth Fisheries in small quantities, however tenant businesses including Moby Nicks, Rex Down Fish Merchant and RG Seafoods would be able to source octopus on request. Visit our website for more information, including how to contact merchant units.

Cooking octopus

Most of the meat on an octopus is in the eight arms, which can be tough if it’s not tenderised before cooking.  Traditionally, the octopus was thrown against rocks to tenderise it, but unless you want your neighbours to think you’re a lunatic, the best way would probably be to leave it to simmer for an hour.

The meat reduces in size when cooked so it’s best to use more than you need for a recipe. Also, the beak and ink sack should be removed before cooking.

Octopus can be cooked in a variety of ways, and grilling is a popular choice.

Roasting tends to take more time, while boiling is a quicker option. Braising, poaching and pan frying are other cooking methods that could prove a unique twist on your evening meal.

Detailed recipes and step by step guides can be found on the BBC website, Great British Chefs and Food & Wine just to name a few.

The Best Seafoods for Autumn

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The leaves are starting to turn brown, the cold is slowly starting to creep in and before we know it, we’ll be wrapping up with woolly scarves and hearing the distant sounds of jingle bells.

Autumn is just around the corner and although many different types of fish are widely available and of great quality all year round, some are at their peak at specific points of the year.

Plymouth Fisheries upholds very high standards of the condition and quality of the fish we sell, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the fish that will be in tip top condition in the next few months.

Here are seven types of seafood, available from Plymouth Fisheries, which will be at their best this autumn.

Cod

Of course, the nation’s favourite is available all year round, but our king cod is the perfect autumn fish. Although not caught in quantity by UK vessels off the South West coast, our cod sustains its high-quality condition and is sold to many takeaways and restaurants in and around Sutton Harbour. Now there’s no excuse not to have a takeaway every #FishFriday in the next few months.

Crab

The best crabs are the heavy ones so make sure when you’re buying one that there isn’t liquid sloshing inside, or it’s not worth eating! Brown crab is the most commonly eaten crab in the UK, it’s full of sweetness and is a great source of protein but if you prefer your crab really sweet go for the females. Although its quality is at its best from September, when October hits you might find it’s harder to get a hold of.

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish come from the same family as squid and octopus and are commonly caught off the South West coast. These molluscs vary in colour, but are often a blackish-brown and normally live for up to two years. They’re top quality in the autumn and are a great alternative to squid.

Dover Sole

This slipper-like flatfish is usually found in sandy and muddy areas and proves to be a versatile fish for cooking. It can be fried, poached and grilled to name a few methods. Getting it from Plymouth Fisheries you’ll find it in tip top condition throughout autumn.

Monkfish

Found in the Atlantic Ocean, Monkfish are also known as sea-devils and the fish is a favourite among chefs due to its firm texture and white, meaty flesh. Monkfish is widely available in the South West during autumn, it may look scary in the water but it’ll look amazing on your plate!

Plaice

This flatfish is another that commonly features on the menu of fish and chip takeaways and restaurants. It has a mild, sweet flavour and is great if you’re watching the calories, not to mention it’s a rich source of protein and low in fat. Plaice will be plentiful in the lead up to Christmas.

Sardines

Fresh is best for this silver skinned fish. It’s bold in flavour, full of omega-3 fatty acids and doesn’t break the bank. Their quality is long-lasting, and the best time to buy is from October into the spring.

For more information on the best quality seafood for any time of the year, go to http://www.plymouthfisheries.co.uk/ and look through the SEAFISH Seafood Guide.

Plymouth Seafood Festival returns to celebrate the sea

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Plymouth Seafood Festival returns to celebrate the best of Britain’s Ocean City on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September. 

In a vibrant celebration of fresh fish and seafood, the historic Barbican and Sutton Harbour will host a stunning showcase of sustainable seafood caught locally just off the shores of Plymouth. Traders and market stalls, a cookery theatre, children’s activities, demonstration marquees and more will appear along the quayside, already packed with shops, galleries and restaurants. 

The cookery theatre is the star of the show and will host talented regional chefs, including Paul Doidge (KUKU/The Mission), Suphawadee Kaden (Supha’s Street Food Emporium) and Tom Dodd (The Greedy Goose).

Market traders will line The Parade and Quay Square, selling everything from seafood to spice kits, to liqueurs and cheese and Ventons Devon Cyder will host the bar, selling their award-winning cider. 

The festival’s resident artist, Debby Mason, will also be in attendance with her beautiful sea-themed prints, selling etchings, mugs and hand-printed textiles, and local galleries will offer unique sea-themed gifts. 

Other weekend highlights include the IMechE Cardboard Boat Race on Saturday and the crabbing competition, Rockfish Crab Festival and RNLI Open Day on Sunday.  

There is lots to entertain children with hands-on activities provided by the National Marine Aquarium and CaterEd, who will be running free cookery workshops in the Kids’ Kitchen throughout the weekend. 

Sarah Gibson, Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, the festival’s organisers, said: “The fishing industry is hugely important to our city.Plymouth Fisheries at Sutton Harbour is viewed by many as the fisheries hub of the region and one of the most important in the UK, sustaining over 600 hundred jobs and selling more than 6,000 tonnes of fish every year, whilst numerous waterfront restaurants serve up dishes prepared daily with locally caught fish.

“Our Plymouth Seafood Festival celebrates the sea, inspiring everyone to eat more fish and support the local businesses involved in the industry right across the Waterfront. It’s a real treat to learn about and taste fresh fish caught directly from the pristine marine environment that surrounds our shores. In the hope that Plymouth may be set to become the UK’s first National Marine Park, the Seafood Festival is another great example of why Plymouth is such a fantastic city in which to live, work and have fun.”

This year, the festival brings together the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth Fisheries, Interfish, the Fishermen’s Mission and the RNLI, along with a number of restaurants and shops to celebrate marine life and the delights of seafood. The popular annual event regularly attracts more than 20,000 visitors to the quayside.

The best way to travel to the festival is Park & Ride to Royal Parade or via car with parking at the Theatre Royal car park, Elphinstone car park or Harbour car park. 

If parking at the Harbour car park, the Sutton Harbour Ferry will be running throughout the weekend from Lockyer’s Quay and West Pier (Mayflower Steps) from 9.30am to 6.45pm. Tickets cost £1 for a single trip or £1.50 for a return trip and under 5’s travel free.

For more information about Plymouth Seafood Festival, see www.visitplymouth.co.uk/whats-on/top-events/plymouth-seafood-festival.  

Temporary Walkway across Sutton Harbour

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Fences are up, metal plates have been installed and signs are now in place for the temporary walkway across Sutton Harbour Lock while the pedestrian footbridge is closed for repairs. 

Council staff have been working with Sutton Harbour Holdings plc on a temporary solution to help people get from A to B across a stretch of water that’s used by yachts and fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour.

Pedestrians will be routed across the inner lock gates and along quays via series of paths – including crossing the industrial inner lock gates. This temporary walkway will be in addition to the option of catching the daily Sutton Harbour Ferry Service or walking around East Quay and North Quay, which form the City Quarter and Leisure Quarter of Sutton Harbour. 

It will not be suitable for wheelchairs or anyone with mobility issues as it involves steps and a narrow, single-file, adapted path crossing the inner lock gates, which were designed for maintenance access. However, single pushchairs, single prams and dismounted bicycles may be accommodated, subject to the discretion of the trained safety marshalls on duty managing the walkway..

It is hoped that the temporary walkway, when combined with the daily ferry service and the short walking route around the harbour, will make it easier for people to journey across Sutton Harbour while work continues to progress permanent repairs to the footbridge.

Council leader Tudor Evans said: “People have been very clear they want to get from A to B in the easiest way possible.

“It has been quite a challenge for all those involved to make this happen as we are taking pedestrians across areas of the lock which were not designed for public access. We are literally engineering a solution, and have been working closely with the team at Sutton Harbour Holdings plc to do so; we appreciate their support and cooperation in making this happen.”

The temporary walkway opens on the same day the Star Fish Trail is launched – a fun trail for families to learn about live under the waves. As well as the temporary walkway, people can catch the Sutton Harbour Ferry Service.

Permission to use the interior lock gates for a temporary new walkway has been granted by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc and public liability insurances are being put in place.

The temporary walkway will only be open for pedestrians when the lock gates are closed and no vessels are waiting to come through the lock. should boats arrive and need to use the lock, the walkway will have to close, and people may face waits of up to 30 to 40 minutes on either side for it to reopen. The walkway may also need to close for tidal and other operational issues.

Work is progressing on the permanent repairs.  An agreement was reached in December 2017 between Plymouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Holdings plc to repair the custom-built footbridge, and these repairs are being commissioned by Plymouth City Council.

A contribution agreement has been reached between the Council, Sutton Harbour Holdings and the Environment Agency and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership have also contributed.

There have been delays due to the bespoke nature of the footbridge and a new bearing has to be manufactured for the bridge turntable. It will be a number of months before the bearing can be installed and the lock bridge fully operational.

The bridge across the lock was fitted over 20 years ago as part of the installation of the Sutton Harbour lock gates. Their main function is to manage flood risk and allow marine traffic, such as fishing boats, to enter Sutton Harbour. The lock gates remain fully operational to enable fishing boats and leisure boats to access the harbour.

The Sutton Harbour Ferry Service runs daily between Lockyers Quay and Barbican West Pier, and is subsidised by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc during peak school holiday periods. The ticket price is refunded for customers when they visit the NMA café or shop, or eat at Rockfish.  

For daily updates for times for the ferry, run by Silverline Cruises, visit www.facebook.com/SuttonHarbourFerry

 

Whole Fish or Filleted?

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Fish is one of the healthiest foods there is, containing high amounts of protein and omega-3s. These are important for brain and heart function, and can even help to lower your blood pressure. Not only is it good for you physically, but eating fish high in omega-3 has been linked to alleviating the symptoms of SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

You can buy fresh fish either whole or filleted; both options have positives and negatives. Which one you should get depends on what you’re looking for in terms of cost, flavour and effort.

Whole fish are often fresher than a pre-prepared fillet, as they tend to go straight from boat to market, with very few middle steps. Unlike a whole fish, a fillet has come into contact with both air and bacteria which can dry out the meat.

Compared to a fillet, it is also easier to spot when a whole fish is fresh, simply by looking. Important characteristics of a fresh fish include the eyes - should be bright and not clouded over - and the gills - should be pink, clear and not slimy at all.  Fresh fillets should be firm, with no strong odours and no weeping fluids.

Check out our page for tips on buying the freshest fish.

Our friendly local fish merchants based here at Plymouth Fisheries, just like any good fish mongers, will be able to fillet a whole fish for you, right then and there when you visit to make a purchase. This will certainly be fresher than pre-filleted ones. At Plymouth Fisheries, our merchants can also explain the best methods of cooking the fish, as well as how and where the fish was caught.

They can also gut and descale the fish for you, should you want a whole fish rather than a fillet. Whole fish can be messy and a bit difficult to handle at home; they need descaling and gutting and a lot of rinsing to ensure they are properly cleaned.

Buying a filleted fish will be easier to store and freeze, if you do not plan to eat on the day of purchase. It will be easier and faster to prepare, as well as being easier and faster to eat, since there is no need to worry about bones.

However, should you want to give filleting a go, there are numerous video and guides online on how to fillet any kind of fish, just like this one from BBC’s Good Food.

Buying a whole fish and having the fishmonger fillet it for you is the cheaper way of buying a filleted fish. Pre-filleted fish are often more expensive due to the added step between boat and table, and you only get the fillet. You can make a fantastic stock from the bones and head of most fish which can be used in soups, stews and whole range of fish dishes. The taste of a homemade fish stock will easily beat anything bought.

Here is a simple Epicurious recipe to get you started.

Taste is a huge reason to buy whole fish rather than a fillet. It simply tastes better - all of the added flavour of cooking on the bone, which will help keep the meat moist. Cooking with the skin on will also give the fish a little bit of fat, and fat = flavour. The skin can also protect the flesh from drying out during cooking.

If you don’t want to deal with the bones before eating, it is entirely possible to fillet after the meat has been cooked. Here’s a guide from Eataly.

 

Seasonal and sustainable: three’s better than one

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This month we’re putting not one, not two, but three fish in the spotlight.

Our first fish of the month is turbot, an impressive fish which can grow up to 10kg in weight. However, turbot is expensive and normally reserved for high-end dishes in the kitchens of seafood restaurants. That’s why this month we’re bringing you two other sustainable fish, plaice and mackerel, which is more affordable, but still in season and sustainable.  

Turbot

Turbot is an expensive fish with a huge fan base, making it a popular dish for fine-dining restaurants and for special occasions and dinner parties at home. The average catch is between 1-5kg with a 2kg+ fish easy yielding enough fillets to feed four. They are usually a very welcome catch for local trawlers and beam trawlers because of their high value, although during the spring and summer there is also a good tangle net fishery for them.

When buying turbot, it is important to look for a freshly caught fish, with bright eyes which are free of any fishy odour. The flesh should also be firm to the touch without any discolouration, as turbot can turn a blueish shade as the fish becomes less fresh.

You can cook turbot whole by roasting it on the bone, adding extra flavour to the flesh. When cooking turbot whole, it is important to check that the fish has been properly prepared to avoid a bitter taste, so ensure that the gills and scales have been removed and that the fish has been gutted.

If you are cooking turbot fillets, it is better to use gentler cooking methods such as steaming or poaching. Turbot can be fried but as it is a delicate fish, it should be cooked carefully until the flesh is springy. To check if the fish is cooked you can insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the fish or fillet; the knife should be hot to the touch when removed.

Check out some delicious turbot recipes on the Great British Chefs website here.

Plaice

Plaice is a more affordable fish which has grown in popularity as people seek sustainable alternatives to prime white fish, such as cod. It has a soft flavour which works well in many recipes, taking on the flavours of the other ingredients used.

If you are looking to purchase plaice, ensure it has been locally landed and comes from sustainable stock. Plaice is available all year around, and is a popular and plentiful fish in the South West regularly sold through Plymouth Fisheries, but should be avoided between February and April, as the flesh can become thin and watery during this time.

When cooking plaice at home it is best to eat the fish as soon as possible after purchasing, as plaice can quickly lose its flavour. It is easy to spot fresh plaice on the fish counter as its iconic bright orange spots will become duller as the catch gets older.

Plaice can be cooked using a range of methods such as grilling, baking, poaching, frying and even deep frying, however it is important to remember it takes on the flavours of anything it is cooked in, and any other ingredients it is cooked with.

It is preferable to cook plaice on the bone in order to enhance the flavour, ensuring the black skin of the fish has been removed. Fillets of plaice can also be served as an alternative to cod for fish and chips, or even stuffed with a number of fillings to create an exciting dish.  

Click here to find plaice recipes from BBC Food.

Mackerel

Mackerel is a fantastic fish which is generally low in price, but high in nutritional value and rich in the beneficial fatty acid, omega-3. It is a very versatile fish which can be used in a number of recipes, ranging from simple, quick meals to more complex, time consuming gourmet dishes.

To ensure you are buying the most sustainable catch, buy mackerel which was locally caught using traditional fishing methods such as hand-lines.  

Although mackerel stocks in the South West are healthy, mackerel has been noticeably absent from Plymouth Fisheries so far this year – a situation we hope to see change very soon as mackerel, especially hand-line caught mackerel, is such a great fish.

It is recommended that you should eat at least two portions of fish each week, with one portion being an oily fish, in order to have a healthy diet. Mackerel is an ideal fish to include in your weekly shop as it is commended for its high levels of essential oils and it is rich in omega-3, nutrients and vitamins.  

When buying mackerel from your local fish monger it is important to look for a shiny fresh fish, with bright eyes and no fishy odour. If you are planning on cooking it at home it is important to eat the mackerel on the day of purchase as it can spoil quickly. Alternatively you can freeze or smoke the fish for use later.

Mackerel has a distinctive fishy flavour which can put some people off, however when it is cooked using the correct methods and with the right ingredients, mackerel is a versatile and delicious fish. It can be cooked in a variety of ways including frying, baking, grilling and tastes great as a pâté

For a quick and easy snack try these mackerel topped crackers from Fish is the Dish.

Plymouth Trawler Agents

Thousands of tonnes of fish are landed at Plymouth Fisheries each year, or landed at smaller South West fishing ports and transported to the fisheries complex by road, in order to be sold at the daily auction managed by Plymouth Trawler Agents.

To find out more about other fish are available throughout the year, visit the PTA website here.

 

Temporary bridge across Sutton Harbour to open next month

A temporary walkway is opening across Sutton Harbour Lock to help people cross the harbour while the pedestrian footbridge is closed for repairs.

People will be able to use a new walkway across the inner lock gates for short periods of time in the day, depending on waiting marine traffic, tides and freeflow times, to cross from the historic Barbican Quarter to the Fishing Quarter and to visit the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant.  This temporary walkway will be in addition to the option of catching the daily Sutton Harbour Ferry Service or walking around East Quay and North Quay, which form the City Quarter and Leisure Quarter of Sutton Harbour.

The temporary solution will not be suitable for small children, pushchairs, prams, bicycles, wheelchairs or anyone with mobility issues, as it involves steps and a narrow, single-file, adapted path crossing the industrial inner lock gates, which were not designed for pedestrian use.

It is hoped that the temporary walkway, when combined with the daily ferry service and the short walking route around the harbour, will make it easier for people to journey across Sutton Harbour while work continues to progress permanent repairs to the footbridge.

Cllr Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “I’m thrilled to have approved this plan to create a temporary walkway across Sutton Lock to make it easier for people to cross the harbour, and to support the key businesses in Plymouth which rely on this route. Getting action on this has been an early priority for the new council.

“We are working hard to get everything in place so the walkway can open in an estimated three weeks’ time, whilst we push forward on progressing permanent repairs to the footbridge. I am keen to see the Sutton Harbour footbridge reopen for the benefit of Britain’s Ocean City as a whole and want to see the repairs start as soon as possible with no further delays.”

Permission to use the interior lock gates for a temporary new walkway has been granted by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc and public liability insurances are being put in place. Infrastructure such as new fencing will now be ordered, and trained marshals will be hired to help manage the crossings. It is hoped the walkway can open in three weeks’ time if preparatory work completes as planned.

The temporary walkway will only be able to open for pedestrians when the lock gates are closed and no vessels are waiting to come through the lock into Sutton Harbour; should boats arrive and need to use the lock, the walkway will have to close, and people may face waits of up to 30-40 minutes on either side for it to reopen. The walkway may also need to close for tidal and other operational issues.

No official times for the walkway opening periods can be scheduled as a result of the lock having to remain active for marine traffic as it is required, but notice boards and signs will be installed on both sides of the harbour to let people know the time of the next expected crossing. Each crossing will be one-way only, as the pathway is too narrow for more than one person at a time to use it, and people will need to wait at holding points by West Pier and Rockfish restaurant until the gates are fully closed and secured.

Pete Bromley, Harbour Master for Sutton Harbour, said: “We appreciate that the Sutton Harbour footbridge being out of action causes a major inconvenience for people living and working locally, as well as for visitors to the harbour, and we are working closely with the city council and Environment Agency to expedite repairs, as well as to offer people other ways of crossing the harbour, such as funding the set-up of the Sutton Harbour Ferry Service, and subsiding this over the school holidays. People will now have a third option with the temporary walkway open across the back lock gates which should help in the interim.

“We’d advise that this may involve a wait, as naturally we have to prioritise letting fishing boats through the lock to unload their catch, as well as leisure boats needing to come in and out of Sutton Harbour, but we will make waiting times clear and people will have the option of using this temporary walkway to cross directly if they would like to, rather than catching the ferry or walking around the harbour.”

Mitch Tonks, owner of the Rockfish restaurant chain, said: “This is fantastic news and we are really happy that people will have an easier way to visit Rockfish from the historic Barbican side of the harbour while we wait for the bridge repairs to complete. We will have staff leading people across and providing information on access timings, and our ice cream kiosk, take away and outside seating area will be available for people using the temporary access.”

Roger Maslin, Chief Executive Officer at the National Marine Aquarium, said: “We’re very happy that this temporary walkway has been agreed and will soon be available to make it easier for people to visit the aquarium, along with the daily ferry service. We are working with Rockfish and the city council’s events team to help promote this route and will help to make it clear when the opening times will be on a daily basis, as well as to offer fun and engaging activities on both sides of the harbour for people waiting to cross the temporary walkway.”

It is hoped that permanent repairs to the pedestrian footbridge will complete in time for the bridge to reopen during the autumn. Delays have been caused to the original timescale because the repair is a highly complex process owing to the bespoke nature of the footbridge, and a new bearing has to be manufactured especially for the bridge turntable.

Specialist manufacturers have advised that the design and production process can take up to six months before the new bearing can be fitted.

An agreement was reached in December 2017 between Plymouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Holdings plc to repair the custom-built footbridge, and these repairs are being commissioned by Plymouth City Council.

The bridge was fitted more than 20 years ago as part of the installation of the Sutton Harbour lock gates, whose main function is to manage any flood risk and allow marine traffic, such as fishing boats, to enter Sutton Harbour. The lock gates themselves remain fully operational, and must do so to enable fishing boats and leisure boats to access the harbour.

Plymouth City Council, Sutton Harbour Holdings plc and the Environment Agency continue to meet monthly to discuss the progress of repairs, along with key tenants such as the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant, and to ensure the process is expedited.

The Sutton Harbour Ferry Service is operating daily between Lockyers Quay and Barbican West Pier, subsidised by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc during peak school holiday periods, and the ticket price is refunded for customers when they visit the NMA café or shop, or eat at Rockfish.

Daily updates on operating times for the ferry, which is run by Silverline Cruises, are available at the ferry’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SuttonHarbourFerry

A walking route around the harbour is accessible via the Harbour Heritage Trail, with a one-mile footpath circling around East Quay and North Quay.

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.