Fishing industry fights to put local fish on the menu with new funding

Fishermen fight to save the local industry and increase awareness of sustainable fish with new government and European funding.

THE North Devon fishing industry will fight to put fresh local and sustainable fish on the plate and increase profitability with the help of a �1.05 million funding boost.

The area is one of six locations nationwide chosen to receive money from the European Fisheries Fund and Defra.

The European and Central Government cash will be used by the Northern Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) to fund a programme designed to help local fishing communities build a more sustainable future for themselves.

Speaking at the launch of the programme in Bideford on Monday afternoon, John Butterwith, chairman of FLAG and chief executive of the North Devon Fishing Association, said: “This project will help develop markets; fishermen will catch more fish, and consequently more local fish will be available through our shops, restaurants and markets for people to buy.

“The fishing industry here is only doing well through sheer guts and hard work; fishermen are finding it very hard to survive at the moment.

“But I believe that with the help of everybody, we will be known not just locally but nationally for our industry and quality.”

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Formed by members of the local fishing industry in December 2010, FLAG will recommend projects for funding to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

Despite the area’s outstanding reputation and demand for locally-caught fish from other parts of the UK and Europe, hardly any of the fish caught in the area is actually sold in North Devon.

Tony Rutherford of Bideford Fisheries said that only 0.3 per cent of the fish he supplied remained in the area, “if we’re lucky”.

He said: “It saddens me when you go into a restaurant that advertises local fish but it comes from areas like Plymouth or Brixham.

“I think it’s totally wrong. If our fish is good enough for the rest of the UK as well as France, Italy and Spain, then it is good enough for local people.”

Dan Garnett, who sells locally-caught fish and shellfish, and holds talks about the fishing industry in schools, said it was important to combat such ‘food fraud’.

He said: “I despair when they’re selling ‘local’ mussels, but mussels haven’t been caught in this estuary for a while now. It is up to us to increase consumption of local fish.”

John Emms, of Lathwells restaurant in Bideford, added: “Too many people are using frozen fish pellets or breaded products packed in somewhere like Grimsby.

“There is no excuse for it; they should be supporting the fishing industry and local people.”

Colin Wadsworth, director of employers at Petroc, spoke about using the funding to develop a training course to teach people how to prepare and cook fish.

The funding will focus on the key fishing hotspots of Appledore, Bideford, Clovelly and Ilfracombe, but will be available across the whole of North Devon and Torridge until 2015.

The money was secured through the MMO with support from North Devon +.

For more information about funding telephone 01237 426423 or email

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