Jersey Turbot are a small family run business, Dave Cowburn worked as a deep-sea trawler fisherman for many years, before changing to turbot farming. Dave works alongside his wife Margaret, son Gary and daughter Tricia.
The Cowburn’s first started farming Turbot in 2000 at Victoria Harbour in St Helier before moving to St Catherine’s where The Turbot Farm is located in a former World War II German gun emplacement and bunker. The old gun emplacement houses about 6,500 turbot at any one time in roomy tanks filled with fresh sea water, from tiny 50p-sized fish weighing five grams, to four-year-old turbot weighing about two to three pounds.
Dave explains that “A typical working day starts at 6am, with a call from our fish merchant with the days orders. Then if the tide is high we change the water in all of the tanks and clean.” The sea water in which the fish live is totally ‘natural’ – there is no filtration, and no medication or chemicals are added. They are fed on specially prepared and imported organic fish food. “We also feed the fish during the day and conduct tours by appointment,” says Dave.
The tours of the Turbot farm are very popular, they combine a fascinating insight into how the fish are reared and cared for, as well as a look at the historical building that has been cleverly repurposed as a fish farm. Dave is a very informative and friendly tour guide with an infectious enthusiasm. Last year, Dave was featured on an episode of ITV’s Ade in Britain, explaining his farm to Adrian Edmondson.
Tours are available every Sunday throughout the summer. Private tours are also possible at other times with 24 hours notice. At the end of the tour you can buy turbot direct from Dave: “all our fish are kept so fresh they are still swimming until required.” He also has great advice for cooking and serving the perfect turbot, “Jersey Turbot is best cooked whole. Wrapped in foil with Jersey butter and your favourite herbs, baked in the oven for approx. 20 mins. Then served with Jersey Royals.”
Dave’s turbot is available from fishmonger Battricks Seafoods, which sells on the turbot to catering outlets in the Island. As the order is placed by phone first thing in the morning, the fish can be served up to restaurant diners by lunchtime – about as fresh as it is possible to be.
Every Sunday from 13 April to 26 October, the Cowburn’s run a market outside their Turbot Farm, where a variety of stalls sell locally made goods, and tours of the Turbot Farm take place, with the option to buy Dave’s fresh locally reared turbot.
To arrange a tour outside of these times contact Dave or Tricia:
Telephone: 01534 868836