Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Gone fishing - Isle of Arran. Scotland year of food & drink.


It’s the year of Scotland food & drink & I've had the privilege of photographing some fantastic food products on the Isle of Arran, from exquisite restaurant plates, succulent cuts of meat and some fine fish.  But I also got the chance to see where some of the local produce comes from, specifically seafood, courtesy of Creelers of Arran.  The quality of the product reflects the state of our coast, for which some credit has to go to COAST & Howard Wood who has just won the Goldman Environmental Prize for Europe.
The 'Julie-Anne' Owned by Tim James of Creelers
It has to be said that the stunning blue skies and flat calm seas are not the conditions the fishermen are used to but I put in a special request so that my camera wouldn't get ‘sprayed’ on as conditions would be difficult enough – have you seen the size of these small creel boats – and no sign of a bar for my 6 o'clock g & t!
Heading out to the 'pots' looking back towards Holy Isle.
But maybe I should start with what a ‘Creel’ is?  Often referred to as ‘pots’, these are a passive form of fishing (i.e. you don’t have to be there when the fish are caught).  And it’s a big industry in Scotland, according to the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation it supports more jobs around the coast of Scotland than any other type of fishery. 
Checking the pots for the catch
So back to the Creel.  Traditionally it’s a wicker basket, but nowadays made of net, which is baited and left on the seabed with the hope that a lobster, crab or prawn will enter for food and get trapped until the creel is retrieved.  This type of fishing is sustainable and selective.
Brown crab clings to the inside of the pot
Only the target catch is retained, the by-catch (those just in the pots for a free lunch and unwanted) are returned to the sea unharmed. It also means that smaller, young or ‘berried’ (the term for the eggs) female lobsters can be returned. 
These urchins were returned to the sea after their moment in front of the camera
At this early time of the year, all the lobster are too small / young or berried, but there was still plenty of viable ‘catch’, with crabs, langoustine and squab lobster (resembles a bug more than a lobster!).
Small lobster gently returned to the sea unharmed.
Largely the 'by catch' seemed to be small crabs, which were shaken over the side, sometimes to awaiting gulls, which collected around the boat.
Small crabs are trapped within the pot when taking advantage of a free lunch
The catch is separated on the boat with the large crabs going into a bucket and the langoustine into special segmented trays. 
Brown crabs 
Depending on the target catch, creels are baited with fresh fish or salted fish.  Fresh for the crabs and lobster, salted for the prawns. 
Bait is placed into a cage within the pot.
The buoys mark where the pots are and there can be many pots on one line.  How the fishermen know which belong to them, I guess comes with experience, as several lines were out within very close distances.
Looking back towards Brodick before the pots are dropped.
Each pot is brought up, empties, re baited and then put onto the back of the boat until the line is finished, and then they are all returned to either the same place, or moved to a better fishing ground. 
Moving to the next fishing ground in the evening sun.
The evening chilled and we moved across the bay to the prawn pots.  The first thing that struck me was the vibrant colour of the langoustine as the were brought up. These chappies were destined for the dinner plate in Creelers Restaurant. 
Gently emptying the prawn pots. 
Each langoustine (prawn) was placed into it's own section of tray to keep them in pristine condition and as with the previous pots, all by catch was returned to the sea.  
Prawn escapes from its holding cell!
All pots empties and baited, they were flung back at high speed (no wonder fishing is dangerous), along the seabed.
Creel leaves the boat in a greater hurry than it got in.
The evening done, I took advantage of the sun setting with the seagulls scavenging for discarded bait to take some scenic shots.
Seagulls gather for the discarded bait.
 A big thanks to Creelers of Arran, and other food producers on the island for providing us with such fantastic food, not just for Scotland's year of food and drink, but every year. 


Other links that may be of interest:-
Creelers of Arran
Visit Scotland - Food & drink 
Taste of Arran
Visit Arran - Food & Drink

3 comments:

  1. this is nice
    nice blog dear
    i followed you please follow back
    http://melodyjacob1.blogspot.com/
    thank you

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  2. Just found your blog after meeting you recently on Arran hills. Great post as I like a variety of interesting subjects to read about. I'll add your blog to blogs I follow on mine as Arran is one of my favourite islands but I tend to just go for walks and I'm interested in learning more about local life there as well. I get the Arran Banner every time I'm over :o)

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    Replies
    1. Good of you to have a look. Had a break from blogging after doing the 365 day challenge, and this was my first foray back in. I also did a series last April 2014, of daily blogs all about Arran. I'll pop over and look at yours.

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