When you go on holiday, what motivates your choice of destination? Top answers are likely to be along the lines of: the weather (especially if you’re asking a Brit!), the sights, the activities (or lack of, if you prefer lounging to leisure) and the answer which inspired this project, the cuisine.
This project was about engineering a new way to promote Cornish seafood in the post-pandemic landscape. It is the story of how Seafood Cornwall took the opportunity presented by the resurgence of the Great British seaside holiday to create and distribute a series of brochures to educate and endear holidaymakers to the very best in native, seasonal seafood that our fabulous county has to offer.
The pandemic’s impact on the Cornish fishing industry was devastating. The closure of restaurants and hotels across the country meant that fish landing on Cornish docks suddenly had nowhere to go, leading to a crash in prices that impacted hundreds of fishermen’s livelihoods.
In response, in the Spring of 2020, Seafood Cornwall set about establishing an online matchmaking service called #FishToYourDoor. This service connected seafood lovers all across the country with direct-selling Cornish fishermen and seafood merchants, offering deliveries of fresh fish straight to their customers’ doorstep. You can learn more about the #FishToYourDoor campaign here.
While #FishToYourDoor provided a lifeline to many Cornish fishermen, the easing of lockdowns in 2021 brought about a new challenge. No longer homebound, interest in fresh fish deliveries started to taper off. But when one door shuts, another opens...
At the end of lockdown, an interesting development started to take place. Sun-starved Brits with itchy feet were gasping for a getaway, and with most of Europe still in lockdown, Cornwall became an even more attractive destination.
With thousands of holidaymakers streaming down the M5 for a taste of our sandy beaches, glistening aquamarine waters and historic coastal towns and villages, Seafood Cornwall spied an opportunity to put the spotlight on the fishing industry that’s so intertwined with Cornwall’s seafaring heritage and culinary traditions.
The plan was to create a series of short brochures with information and stories relating to Cornish fishing and seafood. We would place them in holiday cottages and caravan parks for visitors to read with the main intention of encouraging readers to “take a taste of Cornwall home with them” by going to the #FishToYourDoor website, and connecting with a merchant.
We made four bold and beautiful brochures; one for each quadrant of Cornwall.
We filled each of them with engaging and interesting content, playing on the intrigue of holidaymakers, keen to find out more about the specific area they were in. The brochures gave readers a broad overview of the current state of Cornwall’s fishing industry and its importance to Cornwall’s heritage and economy.
They talked about the importance of eating native, seasonal fish in underpinning the environmental and economic sustainability of the industry in Cornwall – a call to action that Seafood Cornwall embeds in everything it does.
We included a simple recipe utilising Cornish seafood, giving visitors the opportunity to “try before they buy,” preparing a dish in the comfort of their holiday cottage, in the hope they would continue to explore seafood recipes when they returned home.
The values of family, community, hard work, passing wisdom down through the generations, and respecting the natural environment cuts across fishing communities throughout Cornwall. But it’s also important to discern the different characters, specialties and traditions that make each town, village and harbour unique. After all, the fishing industry and seafood scene in Cornwall is hugely diverse.
Dividing Cornwall by points on a compass, we set about creating four different versions of the brochure that would each contain its own unique ‘seafood story.’ Contacting fishermen, fishmongers and seafood chefs in the local area, we crafted a narrative of the daily lives of these people, what they felt was important to their livelihood and how they all connected with one another.
One of the interesting realisations from this process was just how many of these people were now involved in more than one part of the supply chain, with fishermen turning into direct sellers or turning their catch into seafood dishes to sell in beachside huts and restaurants to hungry customers. It showcased how the industry was evolving, with these individuals, and in particular fishermen, eager to control the destiny of their own produce.
After pulling together these elements to create our brochures, the final part of the process was rallying holiday cottage businesses to agree to stock them in their homes.
We recognised the common ground between the local fishing and tourism industries. Both sectors are pivotal cogs in the Cornish economy, which were hugely impacted by the pandemic. They are also to some extent mutually reliant on one another, with tourism requiring places for visitors to eat out and fishermen needing the restaurants as buyers of their catch.
Framing it as a call to support your local fishermen, we received a lot of responses eager to help.
But we didn’t want to stop just there. With a desire to reach every holidaymaker in Cornwall, we also offered the brochures to camping sites and caravan parks. We also went to the holy grail of tourist hotspots, the place all Dads insist on not going into because they’re too embarrassed to admit to being lost: the trusty tourist information centre.
All in all, we received orders for over 1500 brochures from all corners of Kernow, a testament to the strength of feeling and enduring connection between Cornwall and its fishing industry.
So, if you find yourself at one of the aforementioned venues any time soon, look out for our coverboys (and our covercrab, though he's obviously a chap, as for sustainability reasons, we only endorse the capture of he-crabs!)
There are four different brochures, each with their own stories from the different corners of Cornwall. Or, you can view and download digital versions below.
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