​A team of Cornish fishermen joined their contemporaries from around the country at a ‘Deck to Dinner’ event at Billingsgate Fish Market last week with famous food writer and food lover Gregg Wallace.

The event, organised by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), launched a new campaign that will encourage more people to try different types of sustainably caught fish from around our shores. It follows the release of new scientific research showing that stocks of many commercial fish species have reached Maximum Sustainable Yield, which is the gold standard of sustainability.

According to the NFFO, the big ‘seafood staples’ including cod and haddock have seen a dramatic resurgence in sustainability over recent years, and this success is paralleled by many other tasty and sustainable species that rarely find their way into our kitchens.

Deck to Dinner saw Wallace and a team of award winning, household-name chefs join forces with the fishermen to create a series of easy to cook recipes for what the NFFO calls its ‘Magnificent Seven of Sustainable Seafood’ - crab, megrim, plaice, coley, mackerel, hake and gurnard.

The Cornish fishermen, all members of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO), attended the event to offer their seafood knowledge to the chefs. James Chown, Tom McClure and Andrew Pascoe are all life-long fishermen and between them catch an incredible and diverse range of species. They enjoyed sharing their expertise with the chefs, some of whom were cooking with species they had never handled before.

Tom McClure Skipper/Owner of the ‘Harvest Reaper’ PZ 329 said: “it was a very worthwhile event and an interesting experience. It was great to see professional and passionate chefs working with top quality Cornish seafood. It was surprising to find that megrim sole still remains relatively unknown here in the UK, even amongst the professional chefs. When Gregg Wallace tasted megrim, he declared that it was better than Dover sole. And it costs less than half the price!”

The initiative is designed to show that more unusual species can be just as easy to cook as the ‘big five’ - salmon, cod, haddock, tuna and prawns - which command over 70 per cent of all UK seafood sales, according to the latest data from Seafish.

Gregg Wallace, said: “It’s interesting to see from the new research that despite over eighty percent of people saying they prefer to eat seafood at home rather than in a restaurant, the majority stick to the same two or three species. Deck to Dinner is all about showing people the breadth and variety of sustainable seafood offered by the UK fleet and most importantly how easy it is to prepare a simple yet delicious, nutritious and often more affordable meal at home.”

“Fish is one of the healthiest and tastiest food options out there and hopefully through Deck to Dinner people will find a new and unusual favourite!”

“The UK fleet catches a variety of unique, delicious and highly sustainable fish that are regularly overlooked. Deck to Dinner is all about championing these and the fact some of these fish are at the more affordable end of the market means people’s taste buds, wallets and conscience will benefit from eating them.”

Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the CFPO and president of the NFFO, commented: “The range of species landed throughout the UK and particularly here in Cornwall is fantastically diverse, British fishermen are certainly giving consumers plenty to choose from., Sustainability is at the very heart of our fishing industry and we are very excited to be involved in Deck to Dinner, which is all about getting that message across to the public. Fishermen in this country have come a long way in the last 10 years and are now rightly regarded by many as sustainable food producing heroes. I hope this initiative encourages the public to get behind and support British fishermen by enjoying more and different types of wonderful British seafood. ”

Andrew Pascoe skipper and owner of 2 vessels operating out of Newlyn; ’ Lamorna’ SS 28 and ‘Ajax’ PZ 36 added : “Gregg Wallace was an enthusiastic and well informed host at the launch event. He was very clear in his message that there are alternatives which are actually cheaper than our staples, as well as being very tasty. Cornish Hake, which we are catching at the moment, is a great example of a plentiful and sustainable fish that is under used here in the UK. I would encourage everyone to try a new fish for dinner and make sure it is sustainable, top-quality Cornish fish!”