Welcome to the first Seafood Cornwall blog!

Our first post is from Paul Trebilcock, Chief Executive of the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation.  Paul dives into the history of Seafood Cornwall and gives us a brief overview of what you can expect from the reinvigorated Seafood Cornwall 2.0!

Seafood Cornwall celebrates the incredible seafood as well as the hard work, dedication, creativity and community spirit of everyone in Cornwall connected to the fishing industry – which is just about everyone! The fishing industry has been at the very heart of Cornish life for as long as anyone can remember.

I live and breathe it not just for my job but as a proud Cornishman with family roots going back generations in fishing. In my opinion, locals, residents, and visitors across all of Cornwall want to see and experience the diverse fishing fleet, incredible top quality seafood, beautiful working harbours and coves, and amazing fish and chips. A vibrant and sustainable fishing industry is central to what makes Cornwall unique for those who live here and the hundreds of thousands that visit every year.

The history of Seafood Cornwall

The CFPO and its members across Cornwall (and beyond!) were one of the driving forces behind the original concept of Seafood Cornwall. Since its inception back in 2004, quality, promotion, and industry reputation were at the very heart of what Seafood Cornwall was about.

Bespoke fish quality advice for vessels, presence at public events like fish festivals, providing invaluable sustainability information for the processing and buying sectors, and helping to generate significant local press coverage (as well as some national coverage such as the One Show and Nigel Slater’s ‘Simple Suppers’) were some of the great examples of the excellent work done.

As we entered into the early 2010s Seafood Cornwall lost its dynamic Chief Executive and perhaps also a bit of its original momentum as it entered a period of reduced activity. Although the CFPO and its members remained engaged in Seafood Cornwall, its activities were much reduced in scale and became more trade-facing primarily due to a much smaller budget. Unfortunately in recent years it has been effectively dormant.

Seafood Cornwall 2.0

The CFPO has always felt strongly that an appreciation and understanding of responsible fisheries management and top quality, sustainable fish throughout the supply chain should be absolutely central to its priorities going forward and obviously this will assist in the promotion of fish and public perception of fisheries and fishermen.

In conversations with our members and detailed discussions at the CFPO board, it was clear that the time is right to build on the great work done in the past and bring Seafood Cornwall back to life in a new form to promote and celebrate the incredible contribution that fish, fishing, seafood and coastal communities make to Cornish life.

This time, it is the CFPO leading the project and there is a greater focus on sustainability and the positive narrative around fishing in Cornwall. The initiative’s new visuals, story-telling, recipe-gathering and web presence will be backed up by on-the-ground engagement where possible. The  ultimate aim is to foster even stronger community appreciation and understanding of our magnificent fishing fleets and communities built around sustainable and diverse catches from around the Cornish coast and beyond.

For me this vision is vital to the CFPO’s involvement and leadership role in the project; we want this to be an extension of our work contributing to a strong, sustainable future for Cornwall’s diverse fishing fleet. Different elements of the project will launch and evolve across 2020, all looking to the horizon and working towards this future.

It’s not just about fishermen

Cornish life has always been shaped and defined by the sea. From fishermen to surfers and fish buyers to diners at top fish restaurants we are all lucky to live in the most beautiful part of the UK, with the very best marine environment on our doorstep along with some of the most incredible seafood in the world.

Although led by the CFPO, Seafood Cornwall is not just about fishermen. We will be looking to speak, engage and encourage others throughout the fish supply chain and associated industries to get involved as I believe that is absolutely critical in delivering the ultimate benefits for fishing communities. We will be looking to hold forums with relevant parties in the near future to help us understand how best to do that, and we look forward to lively debate and discussion when we get started.

We are looking to the future of the fishing in new ways, too – the launch of our Youth Board earlier in 2019 was something special and we look forward to seeing it grow. It is the first of its kind for the fishing industry in the UK, acting as a platform for young people to share their views on recruitment and public perceptions of fishing, as well as any other things they as young and/or potential fishermen want to discuss. The full CFPO board are keen to get updates and feedback to inform discussion on both where the next generation will come from but also what they want and expect.

These are challenging and uncertain times for many in Cornish fishing and fishing communities but there are also opportunities and exciting times ahead. The Cornish Fish Producers Organisation working with Seafood Cornwall will be striving to ensure that everyone can understand, appreciate and support our sustainable and important fish, fishermen, fishing fleets and the communities they are part of into the future.

Monkfish, lemon sole, spider crab, and hake illustrations by Sarah Dowling.

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