Chippies told to step up to the plate

IN the week when one Italian school claimed fish and chips originally came from Venice, a Whitby family-run fishing company is urging more Yorkshire restaurants to seek out fresh, sustainable fish, rather than opting for frozen alternatives.
Whitby based Lockers Fish has undertaken a five-year initiative to revolutionise the way it operates, from catching to landing.
Despite Whitby once being one of the North’s most important fishing ports, Lockers is now the town’s last remaining fishing company able to catch and transport fresh fish, including cod, haddock and halibut, into the town.
The company is the main supplier to the Magpie Café – cited by celebrity chef Rick Stein as being the one which opened his eyes to how good a chip shop could be.
The Magpie serves 250,000 portions of fish and chips every year and says the key to its success is the balance between quality, sustainability and freshness.
Managing director of Lockers Fish, Arnold Locker (left in the picture), said: ‘A lot of thought goes into the fish and chips process, and it begins long before the fish hits the fryer.
‘We are the only company in Whitby which has its own vessels and processing facilities so are able to cover the whole journey from the sea direct to the plate.
‘We are committed to supplying the freshest, natural fish using innovative sustainability methods.
‘These innovations mean we are able to use as much of what we catch as possible. You would be surprised how wasteful some other methods can be.’
Arnold says that part of this success is further due to the company’s work in setting up and pioneering the fully documented fisheries (FDF) scheme with DEFRA, meaning that every step of the fishing process is video monitored by 24-hour CCTV, from catching the fish to keeping it fresh while travelling.
All Lockers’ fishing vessels have operated under the scheme since 2010 and the initiative has also seen Lockers redesign fishing gear to target specific species, letting juvenile fish escape and reducing the environmental impact.
Lockers itself has taken significant steps to strengthen its commitment to sustainability and efficient fishing.
By using highly selective nets and participating in gear trials, Lockers Fish has brought its discard rate down to an unprecedented level of less than one per cent as a result of the overhaul to its technology and practices.
The Magpie Café, which was named Best Seafood Establishment at the Food Awards England and Wales in 2014, was one of the first restaurants to embrace Lockers’ commitment to sustainable fishing.
Magpie Café owner Ian Robson (right in the picture) said: ‘We prepare and cook our fish using traditional methods and that means serving the freshest fish, which we believe is what gives our fish such a fantastic taste.
‘Rather than just ordering on a spreadsheet every night, our head chef Paul Gildroy speaks directly to the fishermen and has a great relationship with them.
‘He talks to them every day about all the variables – the tides, the weather and the seasonality.’