David Stevens runs the family owned, 20 metre trawler Crystal Sea, along with his brother Alec. He has been fishing for nearly 25 years, but his family’s fishing heritage goes back to the 13th Century.
Today, David and his crew of four catch 25 plus different species, but predominantly target haddock, angler fish, lemon sole and John Dory. Their trawler operates in the south western approaches where the Atlantic Ocean meets the rugged Cornish coast. They are often out at sea for five to six days, depending on the weather, as to maximise the quality and freshness of their catch.
The crew catches an estimated 500 tonnes of mixed whitefish every year. This equates to approximately 900,000 meals!
The Crystal Sea is heavily involved in a number of sustainability initiatives, including a Fully Documented Fisheries Scheme with the UK government, which involves having CCTV fitted to the vessel to monitor everything that happens on board. As well as this the crew is running a fully documented catch trial on all species this year, which involves landing all their catch at port so that the fishing authorities have an idea of how the landings obligation will work in practice.
As part of this trial, David and the crew came up with their own clever adaptation to the fishnet to reduce the amount of juvenile haddock retained. This reduced their discards by a massive 87 per cent.
David believes fishermen should be actively involved in collecting data on fish stocks, as they are best placed to provide it in real time. This allows scientists to build up a more accurate picture of fish stocks and recovery, which can only benefit the industry.
One of David’s favourite fish for catching, and for eating, is the John Dory. He calls it a great tasting and unique fish, which takes experience and knowledge to catch. Despite the technology available for locating fish, David often uses the state of the tides as his guide for where to shoot his nets.
Video courtesy of Cornwall Good Seafood Guide