June saw me on the road quite a bit again, what’s new hey?! This time I decided to down tools in the office and go and visit some of the fishing ports that I’m focusing on in my research – Plymouth, Brixham and Newlyn. Together these ports bring in almost £60million in value (in 2013), have around 1,250 registered vessels and support approximately 2,045 fishermen (MMO stats, 2013). They bring in a variety of fish and shellfish and each port is actually quite different from one another despite being located in quite geographically similar areas; Newlyn supports lots of demersal fisheries, Plymouth has a large pelagic sector whilst Brixham also handles a lot of shellfish.
As I only moved to Exeter in September last year, I haven’t really managed to get out to these ports to see them for myself, something I have been very keen to do. Just being able to look round, meet some of the people there and get the feeling of the place helps so much with understanding these places that I’m always writing about and referring to in my work. Hopefully my work with these ports and the people there will increase more into the future as I start to explore the socio-economic implications of climate change more.
First stop was Brixham, where I also went with a load of undergraduates to help on their field course learning about sustainable fisheries. We got up nice and early to go to the market, then had a wander round the harbour with Jim Portus (manager of South West Fish Producer Organisation Ltd) who showed us the different boats and fishing gears and told us a bit more about the goings on. We then spent the rest of the day looking round the port and town and also did a spot of crabbing! We were meant to go for a fishing trip but the sea was a bit too choppy which was a shame.
The following week I then tied in my visit to the ESI (part of Exeter University campus based at Penryn, where I met up with some colleagues) with a trip to Newlyn. A bit greyer than when I went to Brixham and certainly felt so much further south than anticipated! Again I had a good look round and also saw the fishermen’s mission building which forms an essential place of support for fishers and their families. A lot of fish processors and take away shops lined the street right next to the port so here it seemed the supply chain from fish to dish was a lot shorter (in some cases at least). I spotted quite a few trawlers here, which makes sense given the dependence of the area on demersal species. The fishermen also get a lovely view of St Michael’s Mount on a clear day when they go out/come back from sea!
Whilst I was at the ESI I also attended the Marine Ecology and Conservation Network event, which saw people from marine organisations from all around the south-west UK come together to share ideas and talk about work and projects going on. The mix of researchers, practitioners, policy makers/enforcers and charities made for a really interesting meeting and it was really cool to find out about all the interesting marine work going on in the Devon/Cornwall region. If you are based in the south-west and do anything marine related, I would definitely suggest getting involved in the network! On the day I found out about the new Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, which is a new handy guide that the Cornwall Wildlife Trust has produced to help you make informed choices over what sustainable seafood to eat when you’re in Cornwall. A great idea – I wish they had a similar one for Devon!
So last on my list to visit now is Plymouth. This month I also took a week’s holiday to go to St Ives with my friends – what a beautiful place! I’m now back in Exeter and preparing for my research cruise with Cefas next week around the Eastern English Channel and Southern North Sea – fingers crossed the weather is kind as I’ve never been on a boat for two weeks before so I hope I find my sea legs soon enough!