HUNDREDS of chefs and bosses of UK fishing vessels have joined a campaign to protect the coastal fishing industry including several boats from Hastings.
In its first three months, 1,358 chefs and 136 UK fishing vessels signed up to Direct Seafood’s Coastal Fish campaign.
This includes 22 boats that land fish to the Hastings fish merchants, the first fleet in the UK to sign up.
Launched in September this year, the campaign aims to give long-term support to the UK’s local fishermen and to create a viable domestic market for all fish species.
Direct Seafoods is one of the UK’s largest supplier of fish to the catering industry.
While the firm has long been a major buyer of fish caught in local waters and landed to harbour every morning, Coastal Fish expands the company’s product portfolio by paying a reasonable, sustainable price for the entire catch landed by coastal fleets.
Paul Joy, chairman of the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, said: “Coastal Fish is an important tool for ensuring long-term viability of the fishing industry. It helps promote the sustainability of the fisheries that we have in Hastings and that we make the most of our catch.
“Gurnard, dab, flounder and even cuttlefish are becoming more and more popular in this country. Looking back only recently, these fish would have gone to export.
“But the good news is people are trying things that they weren’t before,”
The Coastal Fish programme has also received the support of the UK seafood authority Seafish.
Stephen Oswald, chief executive officer of Direct Seafoods, said: “We believe Coastal Fish is a market changing sustainability programme.
“It will provide much greater financial security to UK fishermen by immediately increasing the value of the catch and therefore reducing the likelihood that it will be discarded. It’s designed to challenge restaurant goers to try lesser-known, currently under-valued local fish.”