Cuttlefish are 'black gold' of record-breaking Brixham Fish Market

Torbay Weekly

Following my first column, I am very pleased to confirm that Brixham Fish Market broke all records in 2021 selling £43,600,000 of fish during the year.

This beat the previous record of £40,300,000 despite the first three months being in Covid lockdown.

When we began to come out of lockdown, and markets all over the UK and Europe started to open up, we saw some huge price increases.

There were some very, very busy days and all our staff worked extremely hard to sort, weigh, grade and sell the fish.

Also, there was the transporting of fish and, of course, the settling of all the boats.

This record-breaking value of fish equates to approximately 10,000 tonne of 40 different species of fish!

So what about 2022?

Calm weather for the start of January has meant a good start to the year despite some falling fish prices, which is normal at this time of year.

Last week we had a very busy week and fish sold for £1,300,000.

We are projecting to break the record again but the vagaries of fishing may mean our predictions constantly change as the year goes on.

Another sign of our growth is the ever-expanding fleet of trawlers in Brixham.

Recently arrived is the Argonaut, purchased by Russell and Alex Passmore, and we are looking forward to the imminent arrival of Mollie Jane (Michael Sharp) and Elizabeth of Ladram (Waterdance).

We are entering the final stages of the cuttlefish season.

The Brixham fishermen refer to cuttlefish as 'black gold' as the quantity caught can boost earnings substantially.

Cuttlefish are related to squids and octopuses – a group of molluscs known as cephalopods.

You may have seen the chalky internal shell, called a cuttlebone washed up on beaches.

These are often used in budgie cages, as a calcium-rich dietary supplement for the bird.

Common cuttlefish are the largest found in our seas growing to the size of a rugby ball, and they are a fierce predator.

Cuttlefish usually live for between one and two years and die after they have bred.

They can quickly change colour and texture to merge into their background, distract predators or attract mates.

The average price is currently £3.22 per kilogram which is much lower than for squid - its more famous cousin.

It is not uncommon for some daily markets to sell over 40 tonne of cuttlefish.

Finally, we are still seeing a large amount of fish exported into the EU.

There have been some changes to the legislation and the paperwork brought in from early January so there have been a few hiccups to overcome once again.