Creating a celebration of Plymouth Sound
This research project aims to enable shore communities to consume more of the free, healthy and sustainable food in our sea and on our shoreline. Teaching people living close to the sea, skills to catch and cook fish, forage at the shoreline and grow food at home.
Marine Edibles is an experiment which hopes to deliver a fresh, creative and collaborative approach to eating fish, seafood and our coastline bounty. It brings together a variety of skills and a creative approach to changing eating habits.
Our pilot group for this work were Plymouth Community Homes residents living in the Devonport Towers, specifically The Tamar building. Our interventions have been shaped around the resident's interests and what we understand may be an exciting and stimulating activity.
Over a four month period we curated a range of creative and practical sessions. We started with a trip out in glorious sunshine and went on a seaweed safari which introduced the group to all the edible seaweed local to them.
Then we ran a weekend workshop in the community centre at Tamar House on traditional crab pot making with heritage practitioner Sue Morgan. Withy pots have been recorded in old paintings dating from 400 years ago, but the craft would go back further as humans have used traps to catch fish and crabs since we first inhabited our shore line. All of our coastline had these pots up until the late 1960s. We continued by exploring the history of fishing in Plymouth with aptly named Richard Fisher.
Dr Juliette Jackson from Seadream Education CIC ran a fabulous session where our group donned 3-D headsets and swam with local flora and fauna including playful seals and spider crabs. Dr Jackson taught us so much about reading charts, seagrass, the biodiversity of our seas locally and much more.
At about a third of the way through the course we gave everyone a fishing rod and tackle set kindly donated by Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. At this point we went sea fishing out beyond the Breakwater and shore fishing at both Elphinstone and Mount Wise where we were supported by passionate fisherman Alan Toze. To be fair we didn't catch much on our trip out to deep water which provided a haul of pouting. Many would have used this fish as bait but we decided to cook it because pouting is sustainable.
So to convince people to cook and eat fish you obviously have to cook and eat fish and this became a focus for the second half of the course. Various cookery sessions followed including making french fish stew with fresh crab and fish pie incorporating our pouting, participants also learnt to fillet and cook fresh mackerel at the fishmongers in the pannier market where they were given a £100 voucher to spend. We also bought fish and chips - for some the first time eating fish.
We delivered fifteen sessions to the group and the feedback was very positive.
This successful work had many additional outcomes aside from encouraging the group to eat fish. In particular the wellbeing effects of fishing with friends and enjoying a hobby outside in the fresh air.
We are currently gathering the outcomes of this work and applying for funding to expand to other PCH residents.
Marine Edibles is committed to Sustainable Fish: A campaign to protect precious marine environments and fishing livelihoods, and call for fish to be bought from sustainable sources. We want to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.
Can you share a cheap and easy fish dish, could you teach a group to cook it?
Pop Collectives partnership with Fisher's Footsteps and Creative Arts Therapy Devon CIC and Tess Wilmot Always Apples
Alistair (foreground) enjoying a fishing trip beyond the Breakwater
Alan with a tiddler at Elphinstone car park
Exploring our shoreline and food insecurity