What Is Catchbox?
Brighton Food Reviewer – Finola Robinson
If you enjoy eating fresh fish but struggle with the ethics of depleting fish stocks and the plight of hard-working but underpaid fishers, now’s the time to take a stand.
By becoming a member of the sustainable fishing cooperative Catchbox, which fishes along the south coast including just off Brighton and Hove, you can help ensure fishers receive a fair wage while you get to buy – and eat – a wide variety of fish that comes from more sustainable sources.
Catchbox Autumn Fishing Season
The Catchbox autumn fishing season kicks off in early September. To lend your support, you join the cooperative for an initial one-off membership fee of £10 and then agree on a weekly or fortnightly amount of fish you’d like to buy during the season, which you then pay for up front. Each kilo costs £6, of which £5 is paid directly to the fisher and £1 kept by Catchbox to cover costs. To keep these costs to a minimum, the co-op is run voluntarily by a core group of fishers and co-op members (customers).
Sustainable And Selective
Catchbox’s small inshore fishers work in boats that are 10 metres in length or less, which means the fishers can be more sustainable and selective in how and what they fish, unlike large fishing trawlers that can seriously damage the seabed. The fishers get paid weekly at a higher rate than regular markets; which gives them much-needed financial security; they can run their lives and businesses and plan ahead, knowing that they have a guaranteed wage throughout the season. This makes a big difference to their lives.
There are no restrictions at Catchbox on the species of fish caught, so there’s no wastage. A catch might include plaice, gurnard, bass, dover sole, bream, dogfish or grey mullet, and if a customer isn’t sure how to prepare or cook something that comes in a catch, someone from Catchbox is always willing to give advice or share recipes.
As fisher Chantelle Williams says:
Not only are we educating people about fish, we’re also reducing food miles and creating a market for local fish. People are now asking for a wider range of fish, which is increasing sustainability and reducing pressure on individual stocks.
Catchbox was launched as a community-supported fishery in March 2013 by marine biologist Jack Clarke, with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the ocean conservation group SeaWeb. At first the cooperative comprised 70 members and four fishers but it’s since grown to over 300 members and six fishers, doubling its coverage across the south coast.
- For more information visit the Catchbox Co-op site
- Let us know your thoughts @eatbrighton