Simply put by the Oxford Dictionary ‘Sustainability is the conserving of an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of the natural resource’.

In reality the decision making process behind deciding what species of fish should be placed on a menu is far more complicated.

Have you ever asked yourself what it is your supplier of seafood does on a day-to-day basis to make sure that you the chef are truly sourcing responsibly? With ownership in over 30 Fishing Vessels as well as investment in Fishing Quota we at Marrfish pride ourselves in providing a passionate consultative approach to help the modern-day chef make informed decisions as to what fish should go on the menu on a week by week, season by season basis.

Quality is at the forefront of our customers’ thought processes when choosing a fish supplier. However with increased awareness the modern chef should also be thinking ethically, environmentally and sustainably when planning their menu.

Why are Marrfish different?

Honestly, it was the foresight and investment of the Marr family over a sustained period. Rather than being followers in a marketplace of information they have been working at a governmental level as well as with partners in the fishing industry to make a sustained difference. Management of Quota, Vessel Ownership, Purchasing, and innovation of fishing gear and now through Marrfish they are actively working to make sure that stocks are preserved sufficiently to provide for the future.

Through Our Vessels

All our vessels are actively encouraged to sign up to the ‘Responsible Fishing Scheme’. Based on a publicly aware specification from the British Standards Institution (BSi), the Responsible Fishing Scheme is an independent, audited assessment of the application of good practice by a vessel skipper and crew in their fishing operations.

Unfortunately, the Responsible Fishing Scheme was cancelled back in 2019 due to the lack of actual audits taking place on vessels. However, our vessels are committed to working to the same standards set out in the original scheme.

In addition to this the Marr’s are working at a Governmental level on the Remote Electronic Monitoring Scheme which is set to be announced in May 2024. Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) is a fisheries management technology to improve scientific data collection capacity and ensure effective monitoring and control. REM is an integrated array of sensors (e.g., GPS and gear sensors) and video cameras used to remotely monitor fishing activities on a vessel at sea, providing the precise location of activities as well as information about catch composition, catch handling methods and discard activity. REM is becoming widely used in many fisheries around the world and is

emerging as a best practice tool for fisheries management. REM data enable cross-verification of self-reported data and confirm vessel compliance with regulations. This approach not only discourages violations because all activities are monitored, but also gives legitimacy to self-reported catch data, which previously has not been trusted by scientists or managers. Furthermore, REM data can also be used to improve traceability, vessel safety and transparency of the fishing operators.

Environmentally the fishing techniques our vessels employ are modern demersal techniques and sophisticated purse seiners, all of which enable the skipper to be more selective with the species they target.

They use the most modern of gear which is inherently lighter, therefore more fuel efficient, which in turn reduces their CO2 output whilst at sea. The minimum legal mesh size (the opening of each hole) is 120mm, our vessels predominately use mesh sizes between 128-130mm to allow as many juvenile fish to escape as possible.

Various research studies carried out between 2003-2016 using techniques such as topless trawls and separator nets provided evidence that when pursued by a trawl in the water, Cod will instinctively swim upwards to avoid capture. Off the back of this research many of our boats nets have now been fitted with Orkney Gear. The ‘Orkney Gear’ or the Orkney cod avoidance trawl is defined by the SCCS to have a diamond mesh belly panel made of netting of at least 300 mm mesh size that extends across the full width of the trawl, attached directly to the fishing line and extends towards the rear of the net for at least 7.5 m (stretched length). The top sheet of netting directly above and forward of the belly panel, and all wing netting sections must also be made of diamond mesh netting of at least 300 mm mesh size. In studies this introduction of Orkney Gear has seen reductions of 49% in Cod catches compared to control samples, so they have proved a highly effective tool in allowing skippers to be selective when fishing in the mixed fisheries of the North Sea. Conservation Credit Scheme – a scheme that our vessels are allocated enhanced effort allowance, in addition to their basic allowance, for agreeing to participate in the conservation credit scheme which enforces their undertaking of additional conservation measures. One such measure is the closure of whole areas within the North Sea which may be Seasonal (Cod Spawning Time). Working with other countries who manage waters we fish within we also adhere to 3 weeks of seasonal closures in both Norwegian and Danish waters so as to protect juvenile fish. Our vessels also actively take part in the ‘Fishing For Litter’ scheme. Fishing for litter is an active environmental response to the progressive increase of marine litters in the seas around Great Britain.

Through Quota Management

Dynamic foresight at the time the Scottish fleet was reducing in size saw the Marr family invest heavily in purchasing quota for all species of fish in the North Sea. From a sustainability point of view, the family despise the discarding of fish! By working in cooperative manner should a vessel catch any species that they don’t have quota for they are able to lease additional quota at the drop of a phone call enabling all fish caught to be landed at Peterhead. Through its quota management side of the business we traded a 1400 tonnes of quota’d species with European countries so as to

enable our vessels to land the species of fish they caught in their nets during 2023. This practice is something that we not only see as a sustainable measure but also as morally correct.

Through Our Purchasing

We maintain regular contact with our vessels on a day to day making sure that we are regularly up to date with regards to how fishing is progressing, what is being caught and more importantly the condition of the fish being caught. This helps our dedicated team to choose and promote on those species that are in prime condition. This helps us avoid the purchase of fish that are in a spawning state as best as possible, giving stocks the opportunity to replenish.

Additionally, when sourcing seafood from around the rest of the UK we make use of our industry partners who typically land from smaller Day-Boat craft. These vessels have a significantly lesser impact on the environment than most ocean-going beam trawlers. These partners are chosen specifically for their knowledge with particular species and as such are in prime plaice to advise us as to the condition of fish going forward helping us maintain our principles.

We are a strong believer in the Global GAP accreditation whose objective is to promote responsible and sustainable farming practices that ensure the production of safe, high-quality seafood while minimizing environmental impact and promoting animal welfare. Working with our aquaculture supply chain we ensure that the majority of our fresh farmed products originate from farms that are accredited under this process. Global G.A.P. Aquaculture standards prioritize the welfare of the fish and ensure they are produced using sustainable farming practices. Chefs can be confident that the fish and seafood they use are fresh, healthy, and have been produced under stringent quality controls. We are committed to working further with our supply chain and our aim is to eventually have all our aquaculture products come from Global GAP accredited sites.

Through Our Sales Teams

At Marrfish we believe passionately in promoting more of the underutilised British species such as Pollack, Coley, Mackerel and Cuttlefish all of which are caught by our vessels out of Peterhead, which at present in an estimated 80% of cases these fish are exported abroad to Spain and France.

All of our sales teams will provide a consultative approach to our customers, advising of fish that are in prime condition, what you should be seeing on your menu and what you should be avoiding. We will endeavour to give you all the options available to you to build a menu that you are confident enough to satisfy even the most discerning customer.