Tagged sea bass, lobster deliver price premium
South East England fishermen participating in a trial tagging scheme are receiving premium prices for their line-caught sea bass and pot-harvested lobsters.
Under the aegis of the South East Seafood Group, the trial is designed to promote the region’s inshore fishing fleet as a source of high-end, locally caught seafood.
“The main driver for the tags is full traceability,” David Marshall of fisheries consulting firm Fathom Marine, which is leading the initiative, told SeafoodSource. Consumer demand for traceable seafood products is accelerating, he added.
“Up until now, the [hook-and-line] fishermen have been getting a similar price to net-fished bass,” said Marshall. “During the trial, we’ve had feedback from fishermen saying they have obtained very good prices for their bass, better than net-caught.”
The tagged bass are caught using traditional hook-and-line methods. Fish are immediately placed in ice onboard the boats.
“These tagged fish are therefore in the best possible condition and have been caught with no damaging bycatch of non-target fish,” said South East Seafood.
Conducted in July, the trial involved about 10 boats for bass and two for lobster. According to Marshall, the scheme’s rollout is imminent, with numerous fishermen already lining up to participate in the initiative.
As for lobstermen, their pots are fitted with escape hatches to enable juvenile lobsters to return to the sea to breed. The tags attached to landed lobsters bear a number identifying the fishing boat. Merchants and consumers can then access the South East Seafood Web site and use the number to glean information on the fishermen, their boats and their fishing methods.
“Feedback from the merchants has been very, very positive,” said Marshall.
The South East is home to 29 percent of all UK day boats, which fish mainly within a 12-mile limit of the coastline.