Sea fisherman Stewart Calligan catches a codling in North Hornsea and wonders how people can be encouraged to eat more British seafood

How can we change the mindset of the UK population?

Stewart Calligan and a codling

We probably have the best supply of shellfish on our shores in the whole of Europe and conversely, we probably have the worst demand.

The French, Italians and Spanish all eat more seafood than us, you only have to go into one of their supermarkets to see a wondrous selection, with all manner of fish, oysters, mussels, live lobsters and crabs. The latter most likely imports from the UK.

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Those famous French dishes say it all; bouillabaisse (fish stew), plateau de fruits de mer (plate of fruits of the sea), poisson soup (fish soup) and moules mariniere (mussels in white wine). Our answer of fish and chips accounts for only cod or haddock. If only we could groom each generation to appreciate the infinite variety of our island’s bountiful coastline.

I remember my father introducing me to the delights of an oyster on Blackpool front when I was seven-years-old. He gave me crab and lobster about the same age in Bridlington. I’ve had a life-long love affair ever since. What a delicious way to keep in check one’s weight and cardiovascular health.

It was encouraging to read the recent, very comprehensive article, in The Yorkshire Post on the state of the East Coast fisheries. For my own part my friends and I are starting a Lobster Luncheon Club, meeting monthly to sample the delights of home-cooked local lobsters, crabs and fish.

North Hornsea beckoned me for fishing. The sun was deceptively hot and a southerly breeze gathered momentum as the day progressed.

Some good advice I was given is always have your back to the wind when watching your rod tips. But out to sea looked like a fog bank and sure enough the wind swung south easterly and blew a thick sea fret quickly onto the shore. The glorious sun was replaced with a cold, wet mist in ten minutes.

I had a good bite and a codling came into view, soon photographed and returned. It was about two-years-old, half a kilo and 30cm. I worked out it was probably from the Flamborough area and had come further south on the tides. After catching two dabs and returning them I packed up. I had used squid and lugg worms as bait all day, note from the photo, the bait wrapped to the hook with fine bait elastic.

A lot of cod has been caught this last 12 months and I wonder how the Common Fisheries Policy of the EU has affected stocks. To take one for the pot it has to be a minimum of 35cm. These restrictions make sense and it will be interesting to see what is put in place if we take back control.

Footnote to June’s article. My bird watching brother says that the lone rook or raven I saw on the beach was a crow and the diving birds were terns.