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The fishermen and women of Dorset reflect on the future of the industry in the county

PUBLISHED: 10:09 28 July 2014

Nigel Bloxham with some of this Portland oysters which grow in The Fleet

Nigel Bloxham with some of this Portland oysters which grow in The Fleet

Archant

For the men and women whose boats operate out of Weymouth harbour, fishing is more than just a job - it’s a lifelong passion. They reflect on their industry, and the legacy - and future - of fishing in Dorset.

Clem Carter on board Wild Frontier IIClem Carter on board Wild Frontier II

Clem Carter - Boat: ‘Wild Frontier II’

Clem Carter and his wife Emma are a big part of Weymouth’s fishing community. Clem’s passion for keeping a vibrant fishing industry in Weymouth has extended to a great partnership with Taher Jibet of The Dining Room restaurant; their popular ‘We Fish, You Cook’ trips embrace both the catching and cooking of fish from the local area.

“I started working on the crab boats when I was 14,” says Clem. “But about 15 years ago the family got out of crabbing and we built an angling business.” Now Clem takes anglers deep sea fishing on his boat‘Wild Frontier II’ out of Weymouth Harbour. “We specialise in turbot fishing in the Channel Islands and wreck fishing in the mid English Channel. We catch whatever species are in season – pollack, cod, bream, turbot, brill, bass, plaice and mackerel…the list is long. But if we’re talking about what I like to eat then turbot and crab are top of that list.” Having been involved in the commercial fishing industry for well over 30 years Clem has seen many changes, and he is really positive about the future. “The greatest change has been in conservation – it was rarely considered in the early days. But new measures - such as Marine Conservation Zones - are constantly being introduced, and I’m all for it.”

Clem is a real fan of the Dorset Seafood Festival. “It’s a great way to celebrate the tradition of fishing, the industry, the boats and the people involved. It’s also raising money for the Fishermen’s Mission – so that has got to be good.”

More details: deepsea.co.uk or call 07967 029031 or 01305 823474

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Nigel Bloxham - Owner, Fleet Oyster Beds & Crab House Café

Nigel Bloxham owns the nationally renowned Crab House Café which overlooks Chesil Beach. He also has his own Portland oyster beds in the Fleet, just a stone’s throw from the café. “I intertwined my passion for cooking with my love of the sea and I fell into the fish wholesale business,” he confesses. Nigel has had the oyster farm for nine years and won a coveted Gold Great Taste Award for his Portland oysters. “We live and work in complete harmony with the Fleet. Our smaller oysters were named by Mark Hix as ‘Portland Pearls’, our medium-size oysters are called ‘Portland Princesses’ and our larger ones are ‘Portland

Royals’. Oysters can taste different throughout the season. For example, more rain can make the oysters taste sweeter as there will be less salinity in the water.” Nigel’s first job of the day is to write the menu. “We only use fish that is caught in the English Channel by English boats which is why we create new menus daily.” Oysters are on the menu pretty much all year round apart from August when they sometimes spawn. “Hake is a favourite fish of mine and is the most sustainable West Country fish, we use it a lot on our menus.”

With such a fish-infused life it’s no surprise to hear that Nigel is a great supporter of the Dorset Seafood Festival. “I think it’s wonderful for businesses in Weymouth and it also promotes sustainability, which is such an important message to put across.”

Crab House Cafe, Ferrymans Way, Portland Road, Weymouth, DT4 9YU; 01305 788867 crabhousecafe.co.uk

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Kelvin Moore - Boat: ‘Rampant’

Kelvin started fishing when he was 16. “Dad used to work on passenger boats, so I was used to the sea,” he says. “Depending on the season I catch a lot of squid towards the end of the summer. I also dive for scallops and razor clams from around the middle of May until September. We use rods for squid. I dive for the scallops and razor clams, which is my favourite type of fishing as I love being in the water.” It’s also one of the most sustainable ways of harvesting

scallops.

In summer Kelvin is an early riser and he can be out at 3.30am “But then I can be back in the harbour by 2pm – which is nice.”

So what challenges does he think are facing the fishing industry these days? “The quotas can be tough. The Southern IFCA (Inshore Fisheries & Conservation

Authority) always checks our catch to ensure we are sticking to the guidelines regarding size and weight.”

Kelvin believes that the Dorset Seafood Festival helps both the fishing industry and fishing families. “The Festival has made great contributions to the Fishermen’s Mission which helps families through difficult times. The event also allows people to try all sorts of freshly caught fish and shellfish which we land here in the heart of Weymouth. Personally I love a Lyme Bay crab sandwich, with a mix of both white and brown meat. I would highly recommend it.”

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Bob Summerhays - Boat: ‘Sherpa’

Bob Summerhays started fishing in 1987 when he bought his own boat, before that he worked on construction sites and also worked as a chef. “The fishing started off as a hobby, I was always happy on a boat. I enjoyed being a chef but I’m a fisherman for life.”

In summer Bob mainly catches skate, spider crab, bass and mackerel, which is line-caught; in the winter it’s cod and flatfish. “I really enjoy Dover sole with lemon and butter – it’s simple but delicious.”

When it comes to managing fisheries Bob is a real champion of sustainability. “There are now Marine Conservation Zones in our waters because of the Southern IFCA (Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority). Personally I think sustainability has had a positive effect on fishing. My only wish is that

it is managed better so the cost isn’t so prohibitive.”

The Dorset Seafood Festival, which is hosted in his home town, is something Bob looks forward to each year. “It really showcases the locally-caught fish and shellfish we land in Weymouth and what can be done with it.”

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Graham and Karl Noble - Boats: ‘Nil Desperandum’ & ‘Marauder’

Father and son, Graham and Karl Noble, run their boats ‘Nil Desperandum’ and ‘Marauder’ together - one for crabbing and one for line-caught bass. Their sustainable fishing methods ensure that any crab, lobster or bass which is not legally large enough to land is returned to the sea unharmed. Graham’s partner, Caroline, Drever owns Dorset Shellfish and runs the business with daughter, Stef. They sell the quality shellfish and fish caught locally by Graham’s boats and other day boats working out of Weymouth Harbour.“I’ve been on the water for around 35 years - and counting!” laughs Graham. Son Karl has worked with him for

around three years. “It’s nice to spend time with my dad, I really enjoy it,” says Karl. “I think it’s harder for young people to get into fishing these days. You have to get used to saving money for the winter as a lot of the time you’re not able to get out to sea because of the weather.”

In recent years, alongside the crab and bass they catch, the men have also been harvesting whelks. “We’ve seen a massive increase in demand. Mostly we export our whelks but we are now starting to see more interest from the UK. We use pots for the whelks, crabs and lobsters. We bait them with fish and then haul the pots daily, all year round, weather and tides permitting,” says Graham, whose whelks will feature at this year’s Dorset Seafood Festival. “I would encourage anyone to come along to the Festival. It’s a great day out. It also advertises the industry I work in which we think is great. The more people like fish and

shellfish, the better.”

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Taher Jibet - Chef and Owner of The Dining Room, Weymouth

Taher was born in Weymouth, and grew up in Spain where he worked in his father’s Moroccan restaurant. Subeqently he was classically trained in French cuisine and worked at the Michelin star Mirabelle in Mayfair, London under the tutelage of Marco Pierre White. Taher’s menus, which feature Modern European cooking with a strong Mediterranean influence, are inspired by local and seasonal produce. He is a keen support of the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival and is spearheading the ‘Great British Whelk Revival’ at this year’s Festival (find it on Twitter #whelkrevivial). Last year 722 tons of whelks were landed in Weymouth Harbour, with a value of £545K. “The amount of whelks that are landed in Weymouth make it the second largest port in England and Wales for whelks,” says Taher. “However most of them are shipped off to France.” To encourage us to ‘love a whelk’ Taher is working with Tabasco to come up with different ways to cook this underated shellfish. “I’m also working with Clem (Carter), skipper of ‘Wild Frontier II’ on a ‘You Fish, We Cook’ trip where anglers and foodies alike can combine their love of fishing with fabulous fish dishes cooked by me when they land their catch.” Having your catch cooked by an award-winning

chef sounds like the perfect fishing trip!

The Dining Room, 67 St Mary Street, Weymouth DT4 8PP; 01305 783008 thediningroomweymouth.co.uk

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