Christmas Gift Guide 2023 For Fish and Seafood Lovers

By John and Jenny Jefferies

8 months ago

Gift ideas for for fish fans

In our new column, husband-and-wife duo John and Jenny Jefferies give us insight into life on their south Cambridgeshire farm. John is a farmer, while Jenny is a food writer, having penned books like For The Love Of The Land. They’re both passionate about British farming, and will share their expertise with C&TH on a bi-monthly basis, written by Jenny. This December, they bring us a gift guide for fish and seafood lovers.

Christmas Gift Ideas For Fish and Seafood Lovers

With the difficult challenges that are facing British fishermen and women today; the increase in price of fuel, post Brexit, post pandemic, seasonal labour shortages, delicate hospitality trade issues, cost of living and the war in Ukraine, it’s more important than ever before to buy local, seasonal and British. Here are some thoughts from people in the British seafood community on why they need our support, plus a list of products for fish and seafood lovers to give this Christmas.

Why British Fisheries Need Our Support

Gabby Mason, Co-Founder of Jade-S Fisheries

‘Jersey fishing boats are few in number and still today are owned and run by the skipper rather than large corporate companies. This means that the Jersey fishermen are connected to their waters and its produce in such an intrinsic and natural way. They catch what they need to survive. Our vessels are small (almost all are under 10m) and due to this small size, and our uniquely large tides coupled with the weather, days fishing are naturally limited. Small scale fisheries still exist like that in Jersey and they are and can be sustainable. 

‘By supporting your local fisherman you’re not only supporting part of your local economy, you’re keeping small scale fisheries in business and reducing the reliance on large mass-scale international fisheries which are dominantly engaged in less sustainable methods. Eating what’s local to your waters can make all the difference to those boats creating a market for products perhaps less popular and reducing reliance on “fashion-fish”. Fishing can be sustainable but support must be given to these vessels in order for them to continue fishing, before the small-scale and sustainable fisheries are gone. 

‘We love everything about Jersey seafood and the Jersey fishing community, from the people to the variety of catch and its exceptional sustainability. We hope that we can help shape an industry which continues to survive but also strives for a future for the next generation.’

Khatiche and Rebekah Larcombe

Khatiche and Rebekah Larcombe of Sista Shuck!

‘Over the last 20 years, multiple regulations have been imposed with the aim to protect stocks and biodiversity in our waters. Seabass, for example, is not landed between January and April as this is their spawning season. There are strict rules around minimum catch size and all fishing boats must keep meticulous records. However, there is so much that needs to change. Huge demersal trawlers, boats that fish by dragging a huge net across the seafloor, have a devastating impact. Massive, international boats fish just outside of the 12 mile coastal area, making it very difficult for the smaller, often family-owned day boats. 

‘The UK has some of the best ocean produce in the world, and we’re passionate about championing the myriad fisherfolk and producers that supply it. Lately, we’ve been focusing on bivalves due to their amazing health benefits and unrivalled sustainability; we believe they are the food of the future and we should all be eating more of them. Having recently set up our own oyster shucking business, Sista Shuck!, our aim is to provide affordable luxury and highlight their miraculous health and environmental benefits to as many people and as sustainably as possible.’

Mike Warner

Mike Warner of A Passion For Seafood

‘Our British fisheries are a diverse and seasonal mix of fish and shellfish species that are harvested in an increasingly responsible way across the different sectors that catch them. Although approximately 70 – 80 percent of our national catch is exported, paradoxically, roughly the same amount is imported to satisfy our home consumption. 

‘Increasingly though, the British consumer is being encouraged to embrace our own catch and with 50 – 60 different commercial species regularly available on a seasonal basis, home-grown alternatives to the imported commodities of salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns are now a sustainable reality. With increasing awareness of British seafood being promoted by British chefs and then armed with the knowledge that even trawled fish exhibit a lower carbon footprint than reared beef and equal to farmed pork and chicken, it’s unsurprising that the improved sustainability of our fish and shellfish populations is increasingly important when influencing consumer choice.’

Tristan Hugh-Jones

Tristan Hugh-Jones of Rossmore Oysters Ltd

‘We’ve established a successful breeding programme, where we grow our native oysters in 21 man-made (or Dad-made) ponds. We scatter mussel shells which cover the side and floor of the ponds and the oyster larvae grow there for a few months, before scooping them all out and scattering them in carefully defined beds in the estuary, where they grow for another four years. It’s hard, physical work, and can sometimes be quite monotonous, but there’s always some quirk of tide or weather that makes it different. 

‘Oyster farming is the most sustainable form of fishing. Seed oysters are produced, and then they grow to market size. The native oyster we farm in Rossmore, Cork and Loch Ryan, Scotland are classified as endangered and there is now a huge investment in Europe to restore native oyster beds. The Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) is a group of native oyster enthusiasts who all want to grow, and restore native oyster beds. Their conference is in November, where the oyster world meets. We also want to have more oysters in the sea, and the more we can produce the greater the benefit for the environment and also for the business.’

Christmas Gifts For Fish And Seafood Lovers

Outlaw's Guest House