7th & 8th September 2024
Weymouth Peninsula

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What makes Dorset Seafood special?

Dorset fish and shellfish are world famous. So, what is it about our little corner that makes it home to some of the tastiest seafood around?

Dorset’s clear waters support an amazing variety of marine life. Nearby Lyme and Weymouth Bays, Portland, Lulworth and Shambles Banks are home to over 40 species. Around here the sea is relatively sheltered, but habitats range from lush seagrass meadows and kelp to rocky ledges and fast tidal streams, to sand and gravel dunes. This rich mix of environments paired with currents from the Channel, make for Dorset’s famous catch.

More to choose from

The choice includes shellfish like oysters and mussels, harvested around Poole and Portland, crab and lobster, found all along the Dorset coast, as well as flatfish like Dover sole, plaice and dab and round-fish like pollock and mackerel. And of course, there’s wild sea bass, with around 40% of all line caught fish landed on Dorset’s shores.

All this variety provides a great opportunity to try something you haven’t tried before and helps to spread demand across a wider variety of species, which in turn helps reduce the impact on particular types of fish and maintain stocks. If you get a chance, look out for gurnard, red mullet and John Dory. They may look a little different to your regular choice, but they all taste great. Some of the lesser known species are also easier on your pocket and offer a valuable source of protein as well as oils like Omega-3.

If you’re looking for recipe ideas for different types of fish, Seafish has a website full of information, www.loveseafood.co.uk.

Sustainable fishing

Here in Weymouth, the majority of the local fleet are small day boats. Day boats are owner-operated, usually with a crew of just one or two, fishing the waters close to shore and returning to port to weigh in at the fishmongers each day, with the highest standard of care taken in handling and storage.

This is commercial fishing at its most sustainable, with lines, pots, and static nets, causing minimum waste. Much of the area falls under the Marine Conservation Act and the impact of industrialised fishing has been controlled.

There is some trawling in the area, mainly offshore in deeper waters, as well as dredging for scallops by larger vessels. But in recent years fishermen have worked closely with scientists and marine managers to create voluntary codes of conduct to reduce impact on the marine environment, improving selectivity and reducing unwanted discards and by-catch.

We support the goals of Blue Marine, which aims to restore the ocean to health by addressing overfishing. It is dedicated to creating marine reserves, restoring vital habitats and establishing models of sustainable fishing. Blue Marine’s mission is to see at least 30% of the world’s ocean under effective protection by 2030 and the other 70% managed in a responsible way. Its vision is a healthy ocean forever, for everyone.

The fishing industry has been central to Weymouth for generations. Enjoy the festival and make this an opportunity to try the very special seafood Dorset has to offer, knowing that the local fishing community is working to provide you with high quality fish caught in a responsible manner.

Weymouth’s harbourside fishmonger

Weyfish is Weymouth’s traditional harbourside fishmonger, based in the historic Old Fish Market on Custom House Quay, with counters full of the freshest Dorset seafood and shellfish, landed daily right outside the shop. Weyfish is a community business with strong ties to the local fleet, landing much of the town’s day boat catch. Behind the counters you’ll find experienced fishmongers, ready to answer any question.

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