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A Fishy Tale - Bass Fishermen Get Caught Up

Date: 20/06/2006 | Posted by John Garton
A group of local fishermen have devised a scheme to help distinguish their line-caught sea bass from those which are imported or commercially farmed for sale in the Island’s restaurants, shops and markets.

Don Thompson is general secretary of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association (JFA). He has been working with the Genuine Jersey Products Association on the project, which supports the aims of the JFA to provide sustainable fishing and careful management of the Island’s territorial seas. Don said: “Fishermen today face many challenges such as rising fuel and equipment costs and long hours, but despite this the entrepreneurial spirit of the 1960s lives on. Our members are starting to develop new techniques and ways of improving their product.

The most recent development is the bass tagging project, explained Don. He said: “With funding provided by Genuine Jersey we have been able to develop a label which can be attached to fish to indicate that it is wild, line-caught sea bass. Consumer awareness for food is increasing all the time, and fish is no different in benefiting from the increased demand. So as to ensure that consumers get the best, locally caught fish we are promoting the use of the tag. It highlights superior quality and freshness at the point of sale. Of course, line fishing is also known to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable method of fishing. Sea bass stocks in the western Channel are in good shape and are currently at their highest levels since records began.”

Five JFA members are currently using the tags in what is a fairly specialist area of the industry. Last year, approximately 12 tonnes of line-caught bass was landed by the under six-metre fleet, with a commercial value of nearly £80,000.

Ken Syvret MBE, chairman of the Genuine Jersey Products Association, said: “A project like this which encourages shoppers and the catering trade to buy local produce is exactly what Genuine Jersey is all about. We are glad that we have been able to add our logo to the bass tags to help to highlight the quality, freshness and local origin. It’s good news for consumers and the economy that we have such diversity of product in Jersey.”