Andrew Pascoe

There aren’t many jobs that require a 3am wake up call. But when the tides and weather align, any fisherman will know every ounce of daylight is crucial. Weeks not out at sea are spent mending nets, fixing boats, or sometimes simply hand-lining from smaller boats; “that’s ‘fishing at my best’. No phone signal, just forget about it!”

Andrew Pascoe recalls fishing as an integral part of his life for as long as he can remember. Throwback to the 1985 school days, Andrew reminisces on a time where there were no mobile phones; “you just got off the school bus and went straight down to the harbour. Life revolved around the harbour.”

Traditionally, Andrew was introduced to life on the boat the way most in the fishing industry will know only too well; through family. “There’s a slow progression of going to sea from a young age. It’s not just a crash course. When you’re young, you just have that love of it.”

Of course growing up with fishing means it becomes more of a lifestyle and hobby than a job. “You never think of it as money coming in. It’s more that sense of achievement when you hunt some fish down and drive them back. At the end of the day, you’re basically a hunter, and you build your knowledge of conditions and seasons and tides. That sense of achievement is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. It’s natural.”

But with such a pragmatic approach, we wonder whether hunters still appreciate their surroundings, and the beauty of the environment in which they prowl. “You never really think about it…but now you ask the question….yes. It’s beautiful to get out there and see the sunrise – and most of the time – the sunset. You see all the changes of the natural environment. I was out the other day; it was flat, calm. There were dolphins, the most stunning sunset. You think: ‘This is why I do this’, it’s just so fantastic to be out there.”

But they say joy in looking is nature’s most beautiful gift, and it’s important to handle something so majestic with caution. Sustainability is everything at Seafood Cornwall. 

“My livelihood relies on sustainability. If we don’t fish sustainably I don’t have a future. My son doesn’t have a future. We’ve had periods in the past when it wasn’t very sustainable but we’ve learnt our lesson. Fisheries management is catching up. Science is catching up.”

The key to sustainability is understanding the seasons and stock levels, and acknowledging the shifts. Sometimes one haul can be inexplicably different to another. “For example, last October crayfish were phenomenal. It used to be that we’d put back 200-300 small ones a year, but now it’s more like 2-3,000!”

There are so many different factors involved with such a dramatic increase in stock levels; survival rate, less crabs, increased temperatures, and migration (crayfish come up from France.) Andrew explains how fisheries-science partnerships have given fishers a much better picture of the sustainability of their catch.

“Scientists are listening more to fishing and looking at it real-time. It’s certainly a lot better than it used to be.”

However, one of the key challenges is correctly communicating with scientists. Fishermen often report the patterns in stock that they see and feel whilst at sea, but scientists require more objective evidence in order to make changes. This tends to be a familiar hurdle in fisheries research, but there is real progression being made, and collaboration is at the heart of that.  

Within the CFPO {Cornish Fish Producers Organisation} we have probably one of the most-forward thinking groups of fishermen in the country, which is shown in the way we work with scientists. It’s not just today, it’s for tomorrow as well – that’s our way of living.”

Andrew explains that Cornwall has the whole package. “You can eat fresh fish from the postcard harbours. Most people know how beautiful Cornwall is, even if they haven’t been here, they’ve seen it on a biscuit tin!”

And whilst this picturesque scene is so familiar in Cornwall, the reality is there’s been a shift from people enjoying seafood in their own homes. “Fish is a big part of the menu in restaurants; people eat it out more now than at home. There was a time when fish was only eaten from the chippy on a Friday rather than at home, but I think it’s changing because of fishing shows, recipe books, the internet and that kind of thing.”

And that’s what Seafood Cornwall is all about. Shouting about sustainable seafood, and sharing the recipes and tips to inspire people to eat more of it. Not only whilst visiting our beautiful county, but back in their homes, too. 

The #FishToYourDoor scheme has made it possible to eat fresh Cornish fish at home, no matter where you are in the UK. When you sign up via the website, you’ll be connected to a fish merchant from Cornwall who can deliver fresh, sustainable seafood, to your door, the very next day. What a time to be alive.

As for how to cook it – there’s tonnes of creative recipes in the ‘Seafood Cornwall Kitchen’ tab of our website. But of course, if you want advice from a fisherman with over 35 years of experience under his belt, go simple. 

“Simple – pan fried, salt and pepper in flour, dust it over and fry it in the pan. That’s as good as anything. Whiting. Whiting is beautiful. But I like haddock and john dory and that kind of thing.”



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