For The Love Of Seafood, To Feed A Nation

We live in unprecedented times, with uncertainty affecting all of us on different, personal levels. Businesses and industries have been affected to degrees not known since the World Wars. This, of course, includes the Seafood Industry. For me, the Seafood Industry encapsulates everything from the fishermen to fishmongers, from processors to NGOs.

An almost ‘overnight’ roll out of challenges started to appear. Social distancing meaning strict rules for fish buying markets, in a bid to keep everyone safe, but trying to maintain the industry which still kept us all fed during both World Wars. Prices were and are, still affected for the catches landed by fishermen. They need a fairs days wage for a fair days work, they need to maintain crews, as well as their own families and their businesses. To that end, some fishermen finding no other option than to tie in at harbour. UK landed fish is a sought after commodity, thanks to the measures taken to fish and the quality landed, and the export market usually being a lucrative one, is largely quiet.

That then leads to fishmongers and processors feeling the effects. A lot of independent fishmongers are to be found inside market places, some of which are now closed, or have restricted access, which means that footfall is no longer a viable option.




The Seafood Industry has faced its unfair share of adversities, from the ‘Cod Wars’, red tape and legislation and even the weather for the fishermen. Then the changing face of retail and consumer buying. With all of those challenges, the industry faces them head on, and this is no different. Adapting is key.

Coastal fishmongers have made a big impact, supporting their landing markets and adapting their businesses. Fishermen themselves have been able to sell their catch directly from their vessel.

Inland fishmongers have had to adapt their businesses, in some cases, changing their whole business model completely. A lot of independent fishmongers supply restaurants and caterers. Due to the Covid Lockdown, the restaurants have closed and caterers have had to dramatically reduce their buying. So, whats the answer? Delivering to homes instead, whether it be in the locality, the county or even UK wide. Customers who are, quite rightly, obeying the government rules of Lockdown and staying at home, are still supporting their fishmonger and the industry, whilst still getting nutritious food.

Are There Any Positives To Be Gained?

We need to find a silver lining to all of this, to be able to stay positive. More customers are discovering their local independent fishmonger. Ones who were initially buying for their elderly relatives and neighbours, are returning the following week buying for themselves. Customers who, in the beginning days of Lockdown, admitted that they just wanted to avoid the supermarket queues, but in the proceeding weeks, keep returning.

I have served a lady who was telling me that she always used her supermarket fishmonger, but thought she would give the shop a try instead. “Tell me what you think of your fish next time.” I encouraged. The following week, return she did, vowing not to go back to the supermarket as she had never tasted such quality before. Young people have started to use the independent shops more too. Some are saying they were unsure of how to cook fresh fish, but whilst on Lockdown, they have the opportunity to cook and experiment.

It is not just an isolated case, but all over the country, from the furthest NE Scotland, to furthest SW Cornwall, from Wales to Ireland and not forgetting Grimsby and Brixham, fishmongers are doing their utmost to keep everyone fed. Fishermen are toiling and adapting to ensure that we have that supply.

What Can We Do To Support All We Can?

At the time of me writing this, the country is still in Lockdown, if you are in isolation, support your fishmonger by finding out if they are carrying out deliveries. If you don’t have a local fishmonger, get online and find fish companies to order what you need delivered to your door.

If you are still able to go out, respect social distancing rules, and if you find yourself having to queue, then you know you are at a quality fishmongers! As frustrating as it can be to queue, do so safe in the knowledge that your fishmonger is working hard, and still trying to keep themselves safe too.

Eat more fish! Don’t forget your recommended 2 portions of fish a week, with all the health benefits eating fresh seafood brings. Broaden your horizons and try different species, set yourself a challenge to swap the “Usual 5” Salmon, Cod, Haddock, Tuna and Prawns, for something new, ask for your fishmongers advice, and use locally sourced fish where possible. There is a wealth of Seafood to explore.

The Fishermen’s Mission

The Fishermen’s Mission is 139 years old, but their aim has never changed. They support the men, women and families involved in the fishing industry, offering practical help, support and counselling when needed. For the Fishermen’s Mission to be able carry on supporting the community, we need to support them. Please check out the website and also on all forms of social media.


The Future?

No one can possibly predict events after this virus, but if we all make use of the seafood industry, support our fishermen and their families, eat more fish, especially under utilised species, then it is fair to say that our seafood industry will be able to ride the rough seas to calmer waters

Em x

A massive shout out to every single fisherman, fisherwoman, fishmonger and processor I know. There are far too many to mention, but know that I am very proud of you all in these times and beyond



Is A Seafood Education Important For Future Generations?

29th November fulfilled 2 dreams for me. When I was in high school, I had always planned on being a teacher, the plan was either a primary school teacher or high school English teacher. Becoming a fishmonger was what I call “being in the wrong place at the right time.” So, being asked to teach nearly 60 students about different types of fish, sustainability and how to fillet a fish fulfilled my 2 dreams. Every single student I taught had never handled a fish and well over 3/4 had never eaten fish. What has gone wrong?

Modern Life

When my sister and I were small, our parents worked hard all day, with long hours, but every night we would come home from school and they would have cooked us our evening meal. It was very rare we would have a take away and always felt like a treat going to a fast food restaurant. Now, 30 years later, fast food, ready meals and take aways seem to be part of the staple diet. The danger there is losing an education in food. When does an education in food start, and who’s responsibility is it?



I learnt cooking with my parents. I’ll admit here and now, however, I am a shocking cook, I could burn water, but my mum and dad made sure I knew the basics. At my high school, we had the most fantastic kitchen set up, although I could still burn water, we did however learn about fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, proteins, dairy, good and bad fats. Is there still an emphasis on teaching basics of food, including fish, or is fish seen as too expensive a commodity to use within education?


As the young people filed in to the class room, I received the reaction I expected, and secretly wanted. They either had their hands over their noses, nervous giggling or a resounding chorus of “ugggh!” I could relate to that, and work with it. I admitted to the class that I had felt the same way about fish when I was their age. Whether it was because we could now both relate to each other, or because they were fascinated with fish in front of them, they were fantastic to teach. Within minutes, they were asking questions, they were watching and I had willing volunteers preparing Whole Squid and filleting Plaice in front of their classmates. Simon, the chef I was working with, then cooked some calamari and plaice goujons, they all tried some. For the first time they had all eaten fresh fish. So, is it important?


I had been asked by The Food Teachers Centre to do the event with them. I was rather shocked and dismayed that they had had their funding cut. The service that they provided within schools to help teach children and young people about cooking, food, nutrition and healthy eating, was cut. Seeing the young people in front of me enjoying finding out about fish and being hands on, made me wonder why on earth funding for services like this would be cut and seen as non essential.

Is It Worth Teaching Young People About Fish And Seafood?

To be honest that really shouldn’t be a question. To put it simply, the future generations are our next customers, our fishmongers, chefs, food specialists, technicians, nutritionists and processors. They need to be taught about fish and seafood, not just because they should be able to make healthy choices now and in their growing futures, but also so they know there could be possible career paths open to them.

What Can Be Done To Help?

I felt extremely honoured to be asked to help launch the Fish Hero event in schools. Its an ideal time to teach and learn about fish and seafood. The young people sat and listened, they asked questions. I heard 2 of the girls talking about what a baby squid is called. They dared each other to ask me, and after I asked them what they thought it should be called, they loved it. I loved it when they said they thought it should be squidlet, rather than chick. They all learned how to fillet a mackerel, and following Simon’s fantastic cookery demo, they made a delicious recipe. 2 of the boys were left handed, and stood looking at the fish. “Miss, we can’t do it!” I went over to them, smiling that I’d been called Miss. “What can’t you do?” “We can’t fillet the fish, we are left handed.” After gentle persuasion and reassurance, they both filleted the fish extremely well. They gave each other a high 5, smiling at the fillets that they said couldn’t do.

If every fishmonger all over the country could help amazing initiatives such as the Food Teachers Centre, you would be helping young people to achieve something. Maybe they could find that they can do something that they never thought possible. Maybe they find an interest in fish and seafood that they never had before. What do we get back in return? We then have generations of young people, growing up finding a love or interest for fish, seafood and the great bounty we have in our waters.


@FoodTCentre please follow them on Twitter and get in touch if you can help them.

@tarbetts the fish was kindly sponsored by Yorkshires largest and best independent fishmongers- who I happen to work for in my day job

@Girlyfishmonger my twitter handle if you’d like to follow along in all things fishy.



Do You Trust The Seafood Industry?

Trust- “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” So, Do You Trust The Seafood Industry?

People can generally fit into one of three categories in relation to trust

  1. You can trust implicitly, a trust based on evidence.
  2. A wavering trust, which can easily be built on, but can just as easily be shaken
  3. No trust whatsoever, and nothing will change that.

What does that have to do with the seafood industry?

As a fishmonger, I know what Haddock looks and tastes like. I trust my ability, knowledge and skills. I also trust my boss that when he orders Haddock, that is what we have for our customers. He trusts the supplier to supply what he asks for. The supplier trusts the fish auction markets or the skippers from whom they buy from.

Customers then trust the fishmonger. They return week after week to buy quality fish because they built up faith and trust that what they ask for, they get.

What if you have a wavering trust in seafood?

You’ll eat fish occasionally, maybe from your local fish and chip shop. You trust that it is fish, but whether you believe it to be Cod, Haddock, Pollock or Coley is another matter. That is as far as your trust goes in fish and seafood, unless someone convinces you otherwise. Maybe you identify with the third category. You don’t trust it, therefore you won’t buy it and certainly won’t eat it.

Trust is built up over time, and is tested. Trust can be lost very quickly. Transparency of the seafood industry makes it easy to build up trust. You can look online and find out what vessel catches which species. Skippers can be found on social media, you can find out their background and history of fishing and any accreditation they may have. You can go online and find out more about the fish species being caught, even to how you can cook it.

Seafood Fraud

I heard someone say “where there is money to be made, there will be fraud”. The seafood industry is a billion pound industry. Fraud, either actual or attempted is inevitable. There are agencies and strict protocol to ensure that it does not enter the food chain. How do you go that one step further to ensure its authenticity? You go to a trusted fishmonger, a trusted supplier.

Conflicted Information

We live in an age of a constant stream of media, stories constantly running across the globe. One minute it is reported that farmed seafood is the way forward and avoid wild species. The same media outlet, the following week, may report avoid farmed species at all costs and eat wild caught. What are we to do, then? Trust our own judgement, go to trusted information outlets and those who know what they are talking about. As a fishmonger, I’m asked many questions by customers, sometimes the same question by various customers, but would rather they know the answer and for them to return on the basis of reliable information.


Storytellers, not Scientists

Media reporters are “storytellers, not scientists.” Reporters are there to sell a story. Most, if not all fishmongers, skippers and suppliers I know are not scientists, but they know their job, based on generations of a trust based working relationship. I’m not expecting someone who doesn’t eat fish, to read this and all of a sudden go out and buy fish.


Take it from someone who used to be convinced that she hated fish, who 25 years ago wouldn’t touch fish, but now works in and for the industry wholeheartedly.

Trust me, I’m a fishmonger.









Fishermen, Our Unsung Heroes


For a short while I’ve been immersed even more into the fishing industry. I follow SeaFish, the rules and regulations of The MMO and fishing policies from all over the UK. However, there is nothing more rousing than seeing a fishing fleet first hand.

I went up to the most north easterly tip of Scotland, Peterhead, two years ago and was invited aboard Amity II by Jimmy Buchan, getting a guided tour of that beautiful vessel, learning to tie a cod end and eating freshly cooked scampi from the man himself was an occasion I’ll never forget.


Every time as a family we come down to Brixham, I tried to spot the Van Dijck. You get used to seeing certain vessels over time, and then you find out who the skippers are etc. Then, through the power of social media, you get to know the skippers. You get to hear stories, first hand, of the highs, lows and “brown trouser moments”.

This is where I get passionate about the industry. FISHERMEN ARE UNSUNG HEROES. The capital letters are intentional. Hearing skippers tell of Force 9 storms, fearing the loss of crew men, literally having to call out in complete darkness, wind and lashing waves, and the feeling of relief upon hearing the crew mate calling back he was safe. The lack of catch, the issue with days at sea. There are also the highs, great fish sales at market, fantastic weather conditions and a faithful crew.

How many of us are truly grateful for what happens at sea.


The Van Dijck of Brixham has recently been refitted, and had been following the progress online. She looked beautiful, with a very proud skipper. So, imagine my delight, when walking through the town, I spot Drew the skipper. We had a good chat about the refit and fishing trips, with my mum learning a thing or two aswell!


Fishermens Mission

I also caught up with the lovely Helen Lovell, who works as a support worker for the Fishermens Mission. There she was laden down with “Fish Mish” goodies, and her partner Mike aka “Sprat” who goes to sea on “Julie Of Ladrum”, with a box of Fishermens Mission Calendars for 2020 (more on that later). Together, me and Helen walked on the quay, watching the hustle and bustle of the fishing boats. There is something special in watching a vessel, as close as you can, leaving the quay to go back to sea. The sound of the engines, the smell of the oil and seeing the crew working hard like everything is second nature. Seeing them going out on the hunt, standing right on the quay is inspiring. The work the Fishermens Mission does for these amazing men and women is, in itself, special and worthy and more than deserves to be celebrated.




A surprise Invite

Later that day, after putting photos on of my day, I received a post on social media. “Would you want to come and have a look around Van Dijck?” Erm, yes!!! So, 9am this morning, sun glittering off the tide in the harbour, I was walking on the quay, I received nods of acknowledgement and “morning”, from fishermen on small day boats, and inshore boats, to the bigger trawlers. Then, the Van Dijck. She really is a beautiful, stunning red scallop trawler. A jump over from the quay on board and I had a guided tour. Seeing where the crew sleep, work and eat makes it that more real.



Sat in the kitchen, with a well made coffee, I chatted with Drew, 12 mile limits, effects of Brexit, any issues being a scalloper really made me smile. It’s a great feeling talking with someone like that and not having the conversation “simplified”. The technology in the wheelhouse is astounding, with buttons, levers and electronic screens quite literally all over the place. It’s a massive advancement in technology from the way fishing was conducted centuries ago. Even Mike (Sprat’s) family history had great grandparents who fished by row boat fishing, which literally meant going out to sea in a big row boat, fishing. There are still dangers, it’s still not easy, in fact fishing is still the most dangerous occupation in peacetime.


The most danger I have in my job, is cutting a finger whilst filleting or prepping a fish. These men, and women, risk their lives going out to sea. Leaving family behind, going out on the hunt for whichever species they target, whether it be scallops, cuttles, Langoustines, Cod, or whichever species they have license to land at market.

It’s been said to me that it is a “marmite” job, most experienced skippers will know whether someone on their crew is  cut out for it within a day or two.

I truly wished that everyone knew the sacrifice that fishermen and their families make, to make sure that fish is on our plates, that our fish processors have fish to process, markets have fish to sell. The Fishermens Mission working hard to support fishermen and their families, raising money to support active and retired fishermen, to support families of those lost at sea. Maybe one day everyone will realise just what is done to keep the heritage going now and for the future.


Em 😊💕🐟

*I have 28 of the Fishermens Mission 2020 calendars for sale, please help to raise money for The Fish Mish and get in touch with me if you’d like to buy one.*


Young People Are Needed In The Seafood Industry

Being the “wrong side” of my 30s in a couple of months has got me thinking. How many young people are actually involved in the Seafood industry? Do young people want to get involved in the industry? What barriers are there, and how can they be overcome? Are there any benefits to being involved in the industry?

How Many?

Seeing as there is almost a call to arms to get Young people just thinking about the Seafood industry as a viable career option, the answer to that question is “theres not enough”. Its not purely the fishmongering side of the industry, as you may think given my career role, but the industry as a whole. From catching, processing, technical, fishmongering and the catering side, there is a whole chain of events from the fish being caught to the fish being presented either on your plate or fishmongers slab. More young people are needed.

Do Young People Want To Get Involved In The Seafood Industry?


I am the oldest person working for the company I do now, and that includes the owner(!), so there are exceptions to the rule. Fish and seafood isn’t seen as a natural career move. Even if you are born and bred in a seaside town, it might not be the first option you’d think of. I was born and bred in Stoke On Trent, but my career choice didn’t automatically drift towards the pottery industry. I had no interest in the Seafood industry before I was trained. The thought of touching fish, the smell and gutting fish wasn’t on my list of career choices. If you asked a young person who is currently thinking of career prospects, if they’d consider working away on a trawler, they might look at you in utter disbelief. The older generation may say that the work ethic of the younger generation has changed, or the current political upheaval and uncertainty doesn’t help the situation either. There are young people out there though. Jordan Hall is a fisherman in Brixham. For him it’s a rewarding career, where you learn something every time you go out to sea and build friendships.




Working in the Seafood industry is generally thought to be a male oriented job, whichever aspect you may work in. Take fishmongering as an example. Even now, I have customers who come into the Tarbett’s shop in Wetherby, serve them and have a little chat and off they go and say “cheers lads!” then pop their head round and say “really sorry!” There are more females who are bucking the trend. The lovely Amy, an excellent fishmonger from E.Ashtons in Cardiff, who won the Charlie Caisey Award for best newcomer at last years British Fish Craft Championships. Some may look at the industry and not see it as a lucrative career move, or a stable one. It could just be something as relatively simple as someone may not know how to get into a career in the industry at all.


Overcoming Barriers

Technical, auditing, processors, scientific bodies and even governmental institutes need younger people. An excellent tool to use is the internet, look for possible career prospects and see what qualifications are needed for that role. It’s something to aim for. Organisations such as Seafish Industry Authority can also assist if you check them out online from training to advising on the qualifications needed to get on a trawler. I was extremely fortunate to have been trained at Vin Sullivans in Wales for my fishmongering skills, but even then I built on that foundation by sheer chance. I was connected to Tarbett’s fishmongers through Twitter, almost 3 years ago I went to do a weeks work experience just to find out what it’s like working for an independent fishmonger. It’s funny how now, I actually work for him, but it built on that foundation. Find out if any local fishmongers have any Saturday jobs, everyone starts somewhere.


The industry is a fascinating industry, with so much history behind it. If you are inclined to research and writing, get writing blogs and articles and utilise social media to get those articles far and wide. How about your own business? My boss, Liam Tarbett owns two shops, 1 in Wetherby and 1 in Chapel Allerton and a thriving stall in Leeds Kirkgate market. He proudly owns the largest independent fish retailer in Yorkshire.


As fishmongers, we have skills which are embedded in this island’s history. Fishermen and women proudly work hard in all weathers and conditions to bring in the catch. Processors, auditors, technical and scientific roles bring advancements in responsible sourcing, fishing and ethical ways to package fish. The industry becomes a “very small world” and there is a general sense of camaraderie. It is by no means easy 24/7. Every career has its issues from time to time. When I was at school, I wanted to be either a primary school teacher or a police officer. Both of those career paths have both its rewards and issues. Quite how I became The Girlyfishmonger is still a puzzle!

Role Models 


Everyone needs role models. Thankfully, I have many role models, in all aspects of the industry. Many of them are dear friends who I can count on for advice and have been subjects of previous blogs. Ones such as Mike Smith, aka sprat on social media, a skipper down in Brixham. Ben Bartlett, celebrity BBQ chef, who puts so much passion in to what he does promoting food. Garry Bainbridge, from IshFish, who does so much work in promoting the brand and getting Grimsby fish out across the UK.


Social media is a fantastic tool to use, to connect, to learn and to advance. It can help you to get to places and experiences within your career you may never have even thought of.

The Seafood Industry may not be the 1st choice when thinking of a career, but dont let it be “no chance”.



A Year In The Life Of IshFish

With the ever changing climate of retail, it may be difficult or nigh on impossible to be able to buy fresh fish. Fish counters seem to be disappearing from supermarkets, or the quality for discerning customers doesn’t seem to be available. So, where can you be sure of purchasing your fish?

Great Grimsby

Great Grimsby is synonymous with fish. Even though the docks are not as affluent as they once were in their heyday, you think Grimsby, you think fish. But surely, you may think, Grimsby is big name processors. That is partly true, with little gems of fishmongers tucked away. In that case then, unless I travel to Grimsby, or buy it frozen, I can’t get fresh fish myself! Fear not fish fans.



Grimsby, of course, has its rich heritage and history of the fishing industry. And there remain men and women, determined to keep that heritage alive. None more so than Garry Bainbridge and Joel, two friends who were determined to make Great Grimsby sourced fish available to the consumers of the UK, and so IshFish was born. A company, through whom, you can purchase your fish. The fish you want from their online ordering, delivered to you.



Everyone is now more keenly aware, now more than ever, of how food is sourced. This is true of fish and seafood. Food fraud can be an issue, with fish being sold as one species, for which you may pay a premium, and in actuality is a much cheaper species. This can lead to all sorts of issues, and may result in the consumer not buying fish in the future and puts reputable companies and businesses at risk. IshFish are aware of this, and are responsible and transparent in their quality and sourcing of their fish and seafood. In fact, their slogan is “from boat to box”. They work along side trusted sources and suppliers to provide the best quality fish, working with seasonality and responsibility.



So, that’s all well and good, you may think. That fish still has to be packaged and delivered. That is very true. Even the packaging, however is reusable. Of course, until a suitable alternative is discovered, plastic still has to be used to some extent. The majority of the packaging, however, is reusable. The fish is sealed in their individual packages, but then surrounded by a special material which keeps the fish cool as it is delivered. That special material can be reused how ever you want as it is an insulating material. The box itself can also be re used, so altogether there is very limited waste on packaging if you’re responsible with it.



You may like to go and speak to someone when buying your fish, or you stick to your “go to” favourite, mainly because you’re unsure of what to do with another fish. How about if the fish you ordered, also came with recipe cards specifically designed for the fish you have chosen? Oh yes the boys have that covered as well! Honestly, the only thing they don’t do is come to your home and cook it for you (which looking at the photos might not be such a bad idea eh, imagine those boys coming to cook your fish supper!!)

Anyway, I digress! The boys have worked hard at what they have achieved and planning to achieve in the future. In an uncertain climate, especially with Brexit (sorry I wont mention the B word again!) we need to back the companies who work hard in trying to provide the best, responsibly, ethically, and environmentally.


Curious? Get online and check them out. Search for IshFish, they’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can order your fish, you can check out blogs, photos and reviews. You seriously have nothing to lose and alot of Omega 3 to gain.



Heres to the next 12 months and beyond for the guys at IshFish in Great Grimsby. Their hard work, passion and enthusiasm for what they do shines through on the product they deliver. We are encouraged to invest in “home grown” business and enterprise and support entrepreneurs. Let’s rekindle our love affair with fish.






The New Chapter Begins…

I’ve been meaning to write this blog now for, oh, let’s see, 4 weeks! It’s fair to say that everything flew by in an absolute whirl. So, what have I been up to?

Master Fishmonger Standard Ceremony 

Monday 2nd June I went down to London to Fishmongers Hall. Fishmongers ranging from Recognised (myself), to Advanced (Nicola, Julie and Ken) through to Masters (Dave, Ivan and the 1st female Master, Elaine) and many more fishmongers were celebrating their achievements and receiving certificates. Fishmongers Hall is very beautiful, and can feel very intimidating, but the sentiments behind the speeches rang in all our ears.

It was an honour to receive my certificate from CJ Jackson, and I smiled at her words as she handed me my certificate. Its extremely humbling to see ones of all ages, whether just embarking on their own fishmonger journey, or ones who have been fishmongers for generations. Its inspiring for me to see these ones, and to carry on learning in a career I love.

Journey To Leeds

So, my dad and I got back to Euston station and Stoke On Trent, I ran in to the house, quickly got changed and then jumped into my car and drove up to Leeds! A nice easy day!! Here and now I hate inner city driving, but I was quite proud of myself getting to my destination without too much hassle. A quick chat with my new boss Liam, had a quick glance at my new uniform and went to bed! I dread to think how many miles I covered that day!


I followed Liam up to his shop in Wetherby. If you’ve never been to Wetherby it’s a beautiful little market town, with a green grocers, butchers, bakers and of course a fishmongers. It’s fair to say it’s a rather affluent area, and the customers enjoy their fish.

In my previous job role, you almost had to convince the customer why they should be buying the fish, why it was the price it was. Not so in Wetherby. The customers know what they want, what they are going to do with it, and I’ll see you tomorrow for more! Sam, the manager at Wetherby, smiled when I said I couldn’t believe how much the customers love their quality fish. “You’ll get used to it.” I think I’m just about getting there now!

The quality of the fish makes it so much easier to prepare as well. Filleting beautiful flat fish, cleaning out Squid, filleting large Sea Bass makes it a busy day, but rewarding.

Judging Young Seafood Chef Of The Year 

So, in between that, I’ve also been one of the judges for the Young Seafood Chef competition. I’m one of the SeaFish Ambassadors, and was asked if I’d want to judge the fish filleting part of the competition. I have now been both sides of the competition aspect. I know what it’s like to be a competitor, and now what it’s like to be a judge. Maybe that will help me with entering the British Fish Craft Championships in August. You never know!

What’s Next?

A deep breath maybe! Now its finding a place of my own in Leeds. I am extremely grateful to Liam and Caity for helping me in between time, and just letting me start working. I’ll be working on my Advanced stage of the Master Fishmonger Standard, and of course I’ll be entering The British Fish Craft Championships, this time being held in Cardiff on August Bank Holiday, and I have a few blogs to catch up on!

So, it’s all exciting. The past few months have been hard, but that chapter has ended, and this one has only just begun. Everything happens for a reason, so let’s see what this chapter brings.

Em 😊💕🐟 x


Why We Need Our Independent Fishmongers


I wrote this blog a little while ago, but the sentiment remains. Supermarkets will still be standing after this pandemic has settled. Independent fishmongers (and independent food outlets in general), are anxious for the present and future. They need you and your custom, and every fishmonger I know has gone to extra lengths to ensure that you can get fresh produce, safely and with minimal risk. Not only that, the Seafood industry in general needs our support, not only through this uncertain time, but in the weeks, months and years ahead.

I owe a lot to independent fishmongers. Not only have I gained friendships, advice and knowledge, starting in June I will be working for one. I will be working for Tarbetts fishmongers, based in Leeds.

Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I’m passionate about the industry, and will support anyone else who is just as passionate and more so. With a change of circumstances with my employment, I’ll be even more supportive of what is, on the whole, a community.

Rise Of Fishmongers

Fishmongers have been proud bearers of an historic trade. For generations, fishmongers have been a central part of towns and villages. In fact the Worshipful Company Of Fishmongers has had a royal charter since 1272. People who lived in towns, cities, villages and of course on the coast, did their grocery shopping on their high streets. There were no supermarkets, with everything under one roof. I remember, even in the late 80s, early 90s, when I went grocery shopping with my grandma, it was the market place. In Stoke On Trent market, there was a whole section of fishmongers, butchers and traditional bakers. The high street would consist of butchers, grocer, fishmonger and Baker. Of course, there are high streets like that still.

Tarbetts in Chapel Allerton and Wetherby is such an example. They can also be found in a bustling Leeds Kirkgate Market, as well as other fishmongers around the country. I did a web search of fishmongers in Stoke on Trent. It gave me a result of 2. That is also in the whole area of Stoke On Trent, which is 93.45 km.

So, the next question is…

Why Was There A Fall For Fishmongers?

The face of retail changed. Large Supermarkets had everything under one roof, and they were usually found on the outskirts of the towns and cities. That meant that consumers would buy everything in one place without having to venture into their town. It wasn’t only fishmongers that suffered, but also the butchers and grocers. In Stoke On Trent, there had used to be 2 independent butchers. These independent shops couldn’t compete with the supermarket prices. In fact, some fishmongers, who once owned their own shops then went to work for the supermarkets.

Some independent fishmongers have proudly stood strong in this regard, however, such as E.Ashtons in Cardiff. Thankfully, some were passionate about making sure that fishmongers within supermarkets were well trained, and I’m proud to say I am one of those.

Shopping habits also changed, with customers buying online, totally by passing the “middle man”, getting pre packed fish from supermarkets, or just not buying fish at all. Part of the problem of consumers not buying fish is because “we” don’t know how to cook it. Then because “we’re” not sure how to cook it, “we” think it’s too expensive. What is the simplest way of finding something out? We ask someone who knows the answer.

Pride In Independent Fishmongers

So, we established, that by and large, supermarkets and online retail shopping has caused a decline in high street independents. Unfortunately, or for the case of independent fishmongers, fortunately, there has been a reduction of supermarket fishmongers. For whatever reason, retail supermarkets are taking the fish counters out, leaving the customer to buy pre packaged fish. That did lead to myself and many colleagues around the country being made redundant.


In this age of consumers being more and more mindful of plastic waste and food waste, it does seem a strange decision.

This highlights even more benefits of visiting your fishmonger.

*Most fishmongers will now accept reusable packaging for your fish. So, if you have a box or a cool bag, you can use that to collect your fish. No plastic waste going back into the environment.

*You can ask for advice from your fishmonger. How to cook it, what to cook with it, how it should taste, even down to what to serve it with.

*If you want your fish filleting, skinning, boning or other almost endless preparation, you can ask your fishmonger.

*You may think that fish is expensive. Your fishmonger will give you the very best advice, best quality and preparation. That way you then have the best for what you pay.

A Dying Skill?

Fortunately not! Thanks to initiatives such as the Master Fishmonger Standard, it rewards fishmongers for their skill. It then encourages them to achieve level after level until reaching Master grade. Just recently, down in Cornwall, Elaine Lorys was awarded Master fishmonger status, making her the first female Master fishmonger. It will only be a dying skill if it is not used. It will only not be used if consumers dont use it.

So, use it or lose it.


Pride In Fishmongers

I’m extremely proud of every single fishmonger in the country. I may not get to meet most of them, but through the joy of social media, it’s easy to connect. The work is hard and not glamorous, but is rewarding. Whether they are fishmongers with generations of history, or ones just setting up, they should be supported.

What if you dont have an independent fishmonger near to you?

Have a search on Google and you might be surprised, you may even find a mobile fishmonger close to you. Get on social media, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you’ll find many fishmongers displaying their wares. Like what you see? Tell them. You get the chance to go and buy from them, do it. Encouragement will then ensure that others take up the industry and so on. Fishmongering needs young people as well as those well established, male and female. Independent fishmongers will flourish in your high street, if you use them, because we definitely them.


Thank you to Elaine Lorys down at Stevenson, Newlyn (@NewlynStevenson) Nathan Godley at Premier Seafood in Grimsby, (@premierseafood, Veasey fishmongers in Sussex (@FishmongersFR and Liam Tarbett (@tarbetts) in Chapel Allerton, Wetherby and Leeds Kirkgate Market for the photos.


A Challenge In More Ways Than One.

It has been a little while since writing a blog. It’s not through a lack of material, but due to the various activities I’ve been up to. Not only have I been judging The Young Seafood Chef Of The Year heats, I was also made redundant from being a supermarket fishmonger. Ironic I know!!

I digress. After last years Fish Craft Championships, my Uncle David set me a challenge. Now, my Uncle helped me out training for the walk I did from Stoke on Trent to Grimsby last year, with my friend Nicola. He was previously in the army and served all over the world, and in some very scary places. He was addicted to running even before joining the army, as well as walking, so he was the perfect trainer. So, I recieved a message from him last August. “How about doing a challenge with me?” “What sort of challenge, Uncle Dave?” “Yorkshire 3 Peaks”.

“Go on then.”


I have 3 phobias. 1, Spiders. Just the thought of them give me shivers. 2, Water. Well sort of. I can actually swim, although I’m as graceful as a hippo! However, I very nearly drowned off a Cornish beach when I was a young girl. Suffice it to say, not keen on swimming. 3, heights. I have never ever liked heights. I have only been on a plane once because of my fear of heights. So, of course, ideal challenge, climbing the 3 Yorkshire Peaks!

Fishermens Mission

I was never going to back out of attempting the challenge. The thing is if someone says I can’t do something, I’ll almost go out of my way to prove them wrong. I can actually talk myself out of doing something, but if someone else tries to do it, then I’m as stubborn and bloody minded as they come.

I had also decided that every year I want to raise money some way for The Fishermens Mission. Me and Nicola raised over £2000 doing the Stoke to Grimsby walk, and I wanted to carry that on. Not only was attempting the Yorkshire 3 Peaks going to be my biggest personal challenge yet, I was going to try and raise funds for the charity dear to me. Definitely no backing out then.


So, my plan was getting back on to my healthy diet again, work on my fishmongering skills and train for the challenge. I was doing well, I’ll admit. Then it all went a little wrong and news came, completely out of the blue that my fish counter was one that was to be closed. It was news hard to deal with, and I lost my focus. I knew it was getting closer to doing the challenge, so I managed to rally myself abit, with help from my uncle. Basically a “come on, get on with it” push as only family can! I got my head round things a little more and then “got on with it”. In all honesty, I could have done more.

Challenge Time

My uncle drove up and fetched me and off we went to our base B&B. As the scenery changed, I went very quiet. “All you’ve got to do is trust me.” So, a few drinks and a pretty good meal, it was an early night, as we were setting off for 6am. Walking bag packed, and off we went. There were many walkers already starting off from the car park when we got there, and I acted as photographer for a group of about 80 walkers! We walked to the base of Pen-y-ghent and I was terrified as I looked up.


Honest to goodness terrified. I even told my Uncle I couldn’t do it. “Yes you can, come on. I’d never have set this challenge if I thought you couldn’t.” It was a case of 1 foot in front of the other. Apart from being a physical challenge, it was a mental one, shutting out that voice saying you can’t do it. We walked further up, until it was time to start climbing. I watched as my uncle scaled up the rocks, finding me the easiest route to climb up. I followed instructions, holding on to rocks to help me up. Occasionally, my uncle would hold out his hand, helping me up. “Good girl, come on.” Words can’t describe the feeling of finally getting to the top by the marker. Then looking down to where we had started. Descending was actually more difficult, regular drinks of water and jelly babies for sugar kept us both going, along with Uncle Dave’s army stories. Further along the route heading towards the next peak, my knee didn’t feel great. We carried on, and I really wanted to carry on and push on. The further we walked, I knew I couldn’t do the next one. It wouldn’t have been sensible to have attempted it, and then got stuck at the top of the 2nd one.

Not Giving Up

I know I can do it. As I’m writing this, I know I can’t give up. My career is moving on and is more stable, that involves moving to a whole different city and will be alot more settled. I know what I need to do to complete it.


I know this will probably embarrass my uncle, but hey, what’s family for? I wouldn’t have done it without him. I would have turned back from the start. I’d never have climbed up and fought through my fear of heights without him. He told me all I had to do was trust him, and I did, and do. All the activities hes done has inspired me to carry on. And that’s exactly what I’ll do. The Fishermens Mission mean alot to me, and that will keep me focused to.

Em 😊💕🐟


IshFish: Making Great Fish Accessible For All From Great Grimsby


Social media is one of those two edged swords. It can either be a force for good, or be a thief of time. In this instance, it’s definitely a force for good. On LinkedIn you can become connected with many people, purely on the basis of your business interests, and that is the case with IshFish. I’ve followed the story of Garry and his friend Joel for awhile, seeing posts shared by other people, and couldn’t help but notice the passion for what they do. So, I became connected with Garry through LinkedIn and then met him in March. There is a great camaraderie within the industry and pride in what we do is infectious.

So, I had to find out what Garry and Joel were so passionate about and determined to share with everyone.


Their Story

Their mission is “to change the way people eat fish.” Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t know what we want when thinking of buying fish. We may want to buy something but aren’t sure what to do with it. You may not live near a fishmonger, and really want to try fresh fish. Ish Fish is your answer.


Where Does Their Fish Come From?

We all like to know where our food comes from, especially nowadays. We only want to buy from reputable people. Garry and Joel work “very closely with trusted, responsible fish merchants based on the docks at the Port of Grimsby.” You can’t get better than that, as their slogan says, your fish will be from “Boat to Box”.


So, you know it comes from a reputable source, but Ish Fish then go one step further. “For every single portion of fish,” their “merchants provide” them “with all the details of where, when and how the fish was caught”. Can’t say fairer than that.


Ish Fish will only send out the freshest fish of the day, including white, oily and flatfish. What if you need a specific fish? Ask.

So, you know where your fish comes from, you know that the whole history of each piece of fish you eat is documented, and you know that you are getting the freshest fish.


“Ok, that all sounds amazing, but surely the packaging can’t be environmentally friendly? After all, ordering fish online has to be packaged in something.” Indeed it does have to be packaged. Guess what? Their boxes are 100% recyclable! They even have award winning insulating fleece liners, “which are natural, reusable and sustainable”.

Tried and Tested

“But these guys are in Grimsby, and you champion them, so surely they aren’t that good??” So, I tried them out. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I don’t eat as much fish as I should. After working with it all day, I’m never that excited to take it home and cook it. I had the essentials box sent out, and definitely didn’t disappoint.

First of all I received a text saying when my box was getting delivered, and what time! (Strangely enough,when it was delivered, the driver was a gent who I hadn’t seen in about 25 years!) The actual box was brilliant and couldn’t wait to open it.

Unfortunately, friends were there when I opened it. I say unfortunately because they then fought over it!! The Cod fillet and Salmon was quickly spoken for, on the proviso that once they do eat it, they make sure to give a review and join the mailing list! I was fascinated by the wool packaging too. It did indeed keep the fish cool, and I love that it challenges you to reuse it aswell.

I managed to keep hold of the Haddock fillet and smoked salmon. Haddock is my favourite white fish, so I simply oven baked it and served it with potatoes and peas. It tasted so fresh and not a single bone left in it. The flakes of fish were huge and I could have quite easily just eaten the fish and left the potatoes!

Then it was the turn of the smoked salmon. I served it alongside free range scrambled eggs and toasted farmhouse bread. A simple but stunning combination. I prefer to let the flavours of the fish be the highlight of the meal, and not be overpowered by anything else. Again, it was beautiful.

Try It!

So, there isn’t really a reason not to try it, or at least check Ish Fish out online. You can order what you like and even set up a subscription. Get online and there are recipe ideas and blogs aswell! The only thing they dont do is come and cook it for you ( a shame I know, but we can’t have everything!)

In this moment in time when fishmongers are a bespoke trade, supermarkets are turning to pre packaged fish, and the vast majority of the UK don’t eat enough fish as it is, why not try a company who work hand in hand with a traditional fishing port. A company who support the fishing trade, sustainable, traceable and fresh fish. A company who cares about the environment by the way its packaged. There really is no reason not to try Ish Fish.

Check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to their mailing list for offers and news!




Many thanks to Garry Bainbridge for the photos, and wishing both him and Joel all the very best for a great future.

Em 😊💕🐟