Storm Imogen has passed, but spring really, really is just around the corner. On the 1st March, St David’s day in Wales, will also herald the 1st day of the Welsh sewin (sea trout) season for the coracle fishermen in SW Wales. This heritage fishery has a 30 day start on the rest of the UK and some of the early run spring fish are the best of the season. I spoke to one of the fishermen this week, and conditions, wind and river in flood means putting your coracle in the water at the moment would be a bit like tobogganing down the Cresta Run on a dustbin lid. Even so, a good couple of weeks of no rain and the river could be fishable. Of course no guarantees but hoping to have fish available soon after the season starts - call if interested.
The elver season is also due to start at the beginning of this week, reports from France indicate that we should have another recovery season. With the emphasis now on restocking 80% of what is caught, we still have to make a decision on how extensive our Tanks in Schools project will be this year. The ethos behind The Sustainable Eel Standard is well intentioned and something we support. To be truly sustainable, this valuable resource must have a sustainable economic value. This is provided by aquaculture and if processors continue to abuse the adult wild population by processing wild eels they are abusing this threatened natural resource. At the moment we are the ONLY UK smoker of eel that smokes ONLY farmed eel, we need more processors to embrace this practice. With the season now upon us any chefs interested in experiencing a night elver fishing and learning more about our restocking programme with schools give me a call.
In my last newsletter I explained how quickly salmon prices were moving, in fact the following week prices spiked at a 30-year high. Farmers who have to weigh up the problem of risk - disease, escapement, rise in fish meal costs and currency fluctuations - decided to hit the harvest button. The result is 20% more fish were harvested in January 2016 than January last year. Consequently prices have momentarily eased but are now on the rise again. Crucially it doesn’t take an expert to realise that raiding your store cupboard in this way is only going to result in a shortage sometime soon in the future, and the warning signs are there for all to see. Few large fish available and farm bio mass levels falling. It would be foolish to do any long term price fixing! The indications are that between now and June fluctuations will be in an upwards direction.
Special congratulations are in order to Mark Romans and the rest of our QA team, who achieved a grade AA in our BRC audit last month. This is our 8th year in succession in achieving the standard. In the food industry it is the recognised Gold Standard for quality assurance, but what does this little badge on our packaging actually mean and more importantly what do the customers that read it actually think it stands for? Like a Russian general in uniform attending a parade, medals ribbons and braid adorn his chest but are they for attendance or form filling, or are they for acts of bravery and honourable behaviour? We just don’t know but they look good. So how many people when they see BRC, SALSA, ISO, Global Gap, Freedom Foods, ASC, MSC. MCS, Organic, Fairtrade, RSPCA approved, know what these accreditation entails. Some just like the Russian generals have more substance and rigour attached to their credentials while others are just for show. It’s important that these standards actually better informed the public what they really stand for, then the public would be able to attach some importance to those that matter and those that are just adornments.
I have been asked on numerous occasions how Horace has been getting on with our electric van. Early indications are that the tractor is still the preferred mode of transport but signs are the van is making progress.