A new US-style ‘catch-share’ scheme to ensure a better return for fishermen and encourage shoppers to try less popular species is set to launch in the UK.
Catchbox, a co-operative set up by US-based marine NGO SeaWeb with funding from Defra, launches a 12-week pilot next month in Chichester and Brighton.
The service will cost £6/kg with a minimum order of one kg per fortnight. It differs from a box delivery scheme in that consumers must become co-op members (for a £10 fee) and pick the fish up from collection points operating weekly.
Also, they will not have a choice in the fish they get. The contents will depend on what the fishermen catch that day, which is likely to be a mixture of fish and seafood such as bass, flounder, mackerel, herring, squid and whelk.
The launch of Catchbox was timely in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, which had highlighted the importance of local food chains and traceability, said a SeaWeb spokeswoman.
The idea behind Catchbox was to encourage consumers to try species other than the ‘big five’ of cod, haddock, salmon, prawns and tuna, added Catchbox co-ordinator Jack Clarke.
“Eating local, English, seasonal fish, while it’s not going to solve the fishing crisis, is definitely going to ease the strain on those stocks,” he said.
It would also provide a route to market for under-utilised fish, some of which would ordinarily go for export or be discarded, he added.
The fisherman in Chichester and wholesaler in Brighton will receive £5 of the £6 fee, with £1 going towards administration and running costs.
If the pilot is successful, Catchbox hopes to encourage similar co-ops to launch nationwide although it is not looking to roll out Catchbox as a nationwide brand.