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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Newlyn sustainable hake fishermen win Waitrose contract

Paul Trebilcock, Chief Exec CFPO and Alan Dwan, skipper of MSC certified netter 

A group of Westcountry hake fishermen are celebrating after winning a contract with high-end supermarket Waitrose. The Newlyn-based fishermen will be providing the supermarket chain with the first Marine Stewardship Council labelled sustainable hake.

Cornish fishermen have a long history of catching hake and were MSC certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery in June last year.

They work from a fleet of 15 boats ranging from 12m to 23m long, catching hake in the Celtic Sea to the west of the UK mainland and south of Ireland.

Together they land just under 1,000 tonnes of European hake each year into Newlyn.

Alan Dwan, skipper of Cornish hake fishing vessel AJAX PZ36, which featured in the ITV three-part programme Trawlermen Tales.

Mr Dwan said hake fishermen take care of the stock – which they have built up to double their size in 2001, using nets that only target the larger hake and allow the smaller young fish to swim free, leaving more fish to reproduce.

He added: "We're really delighted that a British company such as Waitrose is taking on MSC certified and ecolabelled Cornish hake.

"It's been a long process but we're really happy to have Cornish hake recognised for how sustainable it is and to see it being sold as such to the UK public.

"We use highly selective fishing nets with larger mesh sizes than necessary by EU regulations so that only much bigger, mature fish are taken.

"It is great that hake fishing is benefiting from fishermen's responsible behaviour over recent years."

The Newlyn-registered Ajax boat is now MSC certified for hake fishing

Jeremy Ryland Langley, Waitrose aquaculture and disheries manager, said: "We promised to support the Cornish fishery when it was certified and we are delighted to be able to do so.

"Supporting British fishermen and ensuring we always offer our customers the best in responsibly caught fish and seafood are key priorities for Waitrose."

Toby Middleton, MSC programme director for the North East Atlantic added: "Every time a Waitrose shopper buys Cornish hake with the MSC ecolabel they are playing a key role helping to drive the health of the world's oceans, as well as sustaining livelihoods of coastal communities."

Made by Wild Pictures, the producers of the acclaimed ITV series HMP Aylesbury, Strangeways and The Zoo, Trawlermen depicted how the fishermen of Newlyn in Cornwall toil around the clock with little sleep, often in rough seas, hunting for their catch.

It also provides a vivid insight into how they struggle to meet the expectations of their wives, girlfriends and children at home while they are away for a week at a time.

The video below tells the story of fishing for hake aboard the old Ajax - shot in the run-up to Newlyn Fish Festival when Caroline Quentin met and interviewed skipper Alan and the crew of the Ajax.