Skipper nets top prize –

Skipper nets top prize European Fish Trader Published:  08 December, 2003

Prawn skipper Jimmy Buchan, from North East Scotland has received a Pride in Seafood award for his efforts to promote quality from net to plate.

The Pride in Seafood Awards are an integral part of the Pride in Seafood Campaign which was launched to boost the seafood industry’s image as a forward-looking sector. The awards publicly recognise contributions made to the industry by outstanding individuals, companies and organisations.

Jimmy, who has been fishing since he left school at 16, operates the 21 metre Amity II with a crew of six. He is part of the highly, successful nephrops (prawn) fleet, one of the most important UK fisheries with stable stocks and overall annual landings of around £70 million

Quality has been the driving force for Jimmy’s fishing business. He said: “The fisherman sees the product in its best condition, fresh from its natural environment. Everything we have been doing has been aimed at maintaining that quality whether it’s through the way we handle the prawns, the temperature we store them at on board, or how we pack them in boxes. It’s a continual process to improve quality and these efforts have improved the prices we get.”

While Jimmy mainly exports his catch to Spain, as a Director of the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation he is working with the association to look at new markets within the UK.

“My own next project will be tracing our prawns from when we first catch them through to when they hit the family dinner plate. At every stage, I will be looking at how we can improve the product and its shelf life.”

His innovative measures extend to crew conditions too. “I have a six man crew and we operate a system where there are five at sea at any one time,” he says. “Each man gets one trip off in six but is still paid, an important incentive for share fishermen who get paid according to what we catch each trip. It’s good for morale and it means we get the best results. I’m really proud of the crew and will share this award with them.”

Congratulating Jimmy, Jess Sparks, a Seafish trade and quality development executive, said: “While there’s no denying that some parts of the UK seafood industry are currently facing difficult issues, it’s important to remember the good work that is also taking place. Jimmy makes a huge contribution to meeting customers’ changing demands, providing a quality and sustainable product and investing in his crew. This award publicly acknowledges the great work of all the crew on board the Amity II.”

Libby Woodhatch, the chief executive of Seafood Scotland said: “We are delighted that Jimmy has received this award, as he has always been a leader on all Seafood Scotland Quality initiatives. We plan to promote the Amity II as a flagship vessel in the hope that the rest of the fleet will take inspiration from Jimmy & his crew’s work”