Commercial fishermen working out of Amble Harbour in Northumberland have been given a boost by the news they can now sell their catches direct to a local restaurant which has been registered as an official buyer of fish at quayside auctions in England.
As part of their policy of using fresh local ingredients wherever possible, Zecca Restaurant, headed by Richard Sim, former North East chef of the year, applied for, and have been granted, a certificate of registration as a buyer of first sale fish by the Marine Management Organisation.
This is a new public body set up to be the national champion of sustainable development in the marine and coastal area, bringing together legal powers and functions held previously by various Government agencies. It recently set up its headquarters at Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle.
With its new official licence Zecca is now able to buy fish direct from the likes of Kevin Henderson, an inshore fisherman at Amble, who specialises in crabs, lobsters and langoustines. He is also allowed to land white fish within the quota system.
Kevin warmly welcomed the news that he and other local fishermen can now sell direct to Zecca. “We’re over the moon about it,” he said. “ It’s great to have a local restaurant selling our fish because it’s supporting the Amble boats and making sure customers can get really fresh dishes. Richard Sim and his chefs take the shellfish while they are still alive and dress and prepare them for the table.”
Les Jones and his son Mark, who are co-directors of the High Street restaurant with Richard, said that until recently all their fish had to be brought from North Shields to Amble. “It didn’t make much sense to us considering that a lot of the fish being landed at Amble was going to North Shields and then being brought back to our restaurant. It was fresh enough but we thought we could serve it in an even fresher condition, so we applied for a buyer’s licence and were delighted when the MMO granted us one,” said Les.
Richard Sim said he was delighted with the new arrangements. “ We are now in a position, for instance, where we can prepare creel-caught langoustines within a few hours of their being caught. It’s amazing the difference in flavour. And I’m particularly looking forward to June 1 when the salmon and sea trout season starts. Then we can really go to town with some terrific fresh fish dishes,” he said.
Although deep sea fishing out of Amble has declined in recent years, inshore fishing continues to support about 15 crab and lobster vessels which are not subject to the same restrictions as the 10 trawlers that fish mainly in local waters up to 12 miles from the port.
Amble Development Trust, a keen supporter of the local fishing industry, welcomed the news of Zecca’s appointment as an official buyer of fish landed at Amble Harbour. Executive Director David Milburn said: “ We strongly support the local food agenda via our own Fourways Foods distribution and manufacturing company. This arrangement is yet another step forward for Amble as we seek to put the town, its unique offer and quality products on the map. We need to create more local markets for our fishermen to retain the industry with a product that is second to none.”
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