Stewart Calligan finds a buoyant market for fish traders in Yorkshire with sustainability high on the agenda for customers

Still under the Government guidelines to stay local for exercise, I err on the side of caution and near home practice my casting into the River Humber, clean and service my reels and change old line.

Fish traders have reported buoyant sales during lockdown

With exports of fresh sea food to the European Union being more difficult, the home market is becoming more active. It is nearly a year since I last reported on the availability of fresh seafood in the Yorkshire area and my recent round-up showed positive signs.

From my previous sweeping statement of supply outdoing demand, I ‘drilled down’ or ‘swam deeper’ than before. I broke ‘demand’ down into cultural background, one’s taste and recipes, the price, the nutritional value and ease of availability. We could do a thesis on each of these headings but suffice to say that they all combined to show healthy progress on the home front.

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Results were gratifying. From Carrick’s of North Yorkshire to J H Mann, specialist fishmonger in South Yorkshire, sales and home deliveries were buoyant. Christian of J H Mann said that fish prices were down and his customers were up. He offers cooking advice for routine and adventurous tastes.

A snapshot of the present position showed that amongst others: Chris of Bridlington Independent Shellfishermen’s Co-op Ltd talked of promising signs in the crab and lobster world.

Paul of the Magpie Café, Whitby, tells me of the ‘Magpie’s Whitby Catch’ website, a seafood connoisseur’s dream. He emphasised the importance of the name of the seafood for example, he’d long been buying Megrim sole and spider crabs which the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) have renamed Cornish Sole and Cornish King Crab.

Gary of Holmfirth Fresh Fish Ltd caters for the Kirklees area and recognises the ‘sustainability’ of fishing with more customers interested in fishing methods such as line or nets, wild or farmed, dredged, trawled or creel caught.

All in all we are very lucky to have such a rich supply covering the whole of Yorkshire and readily available. All report improved demand and plenty of supply. To answer my three questions: the USP seems to be the recipes, health and nutritional aspect promoted by the many lockdown TV foodie programmes and the present lower prices.

Brexit has meant more supply available for the home market, which helps to reduce prices and Covid has led to a captive TV audience digesting new fish recipes and a desire to try out new diets and new foods.

Most of the suppliers are only too pleased to pass on recipes and best practice for the household head chef.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the beaches, hopefully next month as there is no close season for such leisure fishing.