Rugby star hooked on Welsh fish project

Cywain - 2010-08-06

A new project that aims to get more local fish on Welsh dinner plates has the support of Wales rugby star Ken Owens.

The Scarlets hooker visited the Cywain Fisheries stand in the Royal Welsh Show’s new food hall where he sampled fish caught in Welsh waters.

The stand gave fish businesses the opportunity to showcase their products and visitors were surprised at the range of Welsh-caught fish on offer. They had the opportunity to sample before they bought and were given advice on where the products were available to buy.

Among the companies sharing the stand was the Pontarddulais-based Seafood Company Wales. Through Cywain Fisheries, the company has been encouraged to add value to the cockles and mussels it harvests from the Bury Inlet.

David Barnes says sterilising the shellfish had added around £700 to their value. “We used to send our cockles and mussels abroad for sterilisation but we now do that ourselves and have almost doubled their value,’’ he says.

“Cywain Fisheries had taken us off the beach and into the marketplace. It’s not about producing the best mussels, we already know how to do that, it’s about developing markets and adding value.’’

Cardigan Bay Fisherman’s Association Ltd also exhibited at the Cywain Fisheries stand and was overwhelmed by demand, particularly for spider crab meat.

“Comments from the customers, many of whom had never tasted spider crab before, were very positive.  One of our major aims was to get the Welsh public to try something new and create a local demand for a product that is usually destined for markets in southern Europe,’’ said an Association spokesperson. “I strongly believe that our success was due to the help and assistance that the Cywain team gave us.’’

Up to 90% of Welsh fish is currently sold overseas but through Cywain Fisheries, the enterprise agency Menter a Busnes is seeking develop local and regional markets and add value to the nation’s annual catch.

Project manager Aled Davies says fishermen, fishmongers, associations and the aquaculture sector are all getting involved.

“We want to encourage more local provenance, to see more fish used in the areas of Wales where it is caught and produced,” he says. “The quality of produce in Wales is excellent and fish is no exception. We want to empower the industry and give it confidence to grow its markets.”

Cywain Fisheries is funded through the European Fisheries Fund with match funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Photos for this release:

Wales rugby star Ken Owens is pictured at the Cywain Fisheries stand with Aled Davies and Alwen Eidda, of Cywain Fisheries, and Gwen McCreadie, of Welsh fish retailer, Derimon.