Welsh Seafood Week (May 31st to June 6th) is set to make a splash with the drive to put #WelshSeafood on the nation’s plates.
Using the hashtags #BwydMôrCymru #WBMC2021 #WelshSeafood #WSW2021 fishers and those in the wider seafood sector will be encouraging people to seek out and celebrate Welsh produce.
Helping raise awareness of Welsh Seafood Week are two projects dedicated to supporting and promoting Wales’ seafood industry. Port to Plate and the Wales Seafood Cluster will be highlighting ways consumers can buy and enjoy the abundant array of fish and shellfish from the Welsh coast.
Different fish and shellfish species will be featured each day, along with recipes, competitions, and details of where to buy fabulous Welsh seafood.
With the emphasis on buying local, people can discover producers in their area through an interactive #WelshSeafood map (https://menterabusnes.cymru/pip/our-producers/ )
Also, throughout the week, there will be glimpses of the lives of those who catch and make a range of products using Welsh seafood. Among them are Atlantic Edge Oysters, Cardigan Bay Fish, and Penaluna’s Famous Fish & Chips.
Seafood Market Development Project Manager – Port to Plate – Phil McGrath said,
“We’re fortunate in Wales to not only have a beautiful coastline, but have some of the finest quality seafood available.
‘Welsh Seafood Week aims to raise public awareness of the variety of seafood that can be found on our doorstep and celebrate all that is good within the seafood sector in Wales. Port to Plate hopes it can provide a boost to the industry after a challenging period.”
ATLANTIC EDGE OYSTERS
After years working with fishermen and shellfish farmers around Wales and the UK, marine biologist Dr Andy Woolmer took the plunge and established an oyster farm in Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire.
Still only in their first commercial harvest, Atlantic Edge Oysters are being snapped up by local chefs, keen to serve top quality and sustainable seafood to their customers.
But thanks to the power of social media, Atlantic Edge Oysters are appearing on restaurant menus across the county and beyond. They are also available from smaller local fish suppliers.
Andy said, “Provenance is everything with the quality and flavour of an oyster. Known as their “merroir” oysters take on the essence of the marine environment in which they grow”. This “merroir” reflecting the pristine marine environment around Pembrokeshire chimes with a lot of the chefs I’m working with as they value quality, provenance and local produce above all else.
“You could eat our oysters straight from the beach, so pure is the Atlantic waters around here. The water is gin clear and has an ‘A’ grade shellfish classification from the Food Standards Agency. Still, we have built a new purification unit – which adds another level of quality to our oysters and helps us maintain consistency of supply.”
Not only has Andy created a growing and sustainable local seafood business, but he is helping to maintain the sensitive ecology of the Milford Haven Waterway.
Atlantic Edge’s oysters are grown among seagrass beds in a Marine Protected Area. So Andy has developed ways of growing them that leave the smallest of footprints.
“My objective is finding the balance between fishing, aquaculture and conservation. We have to develop sustainable approaches to fisheries and shellfish farming in Wales because the sea is not a museum or aquarium; it has to be a working sea.”
A crucial part of the business is supporting native oyster restoration, and Andy is working to bring the slow-growing native oyster (Ostrea edulis) back to prominence in the area.
Andy said, “Restorative aquaculture is at the heart of what we do. We grow native oysters for restoration projects and have recently put 40,000 oysters into Milford Haven.
“Rather than take from the sea, oyster farming can have a restorative effect on the surrounding waters. It helps remove excess nutrients and provide habitat to create a healthier ecosystem for other marine life.”
An expert in oyster farming and marine life, but when it came to the myriad of skills required to run a small business Andy turned to Cywain.
Through Cywain, he has been able to access various support, from branding, brand positioning and social media marketing to finance and design.
Andy said, “As a small producer, especially in the seafood sector, you’re either a one-man band or a family business, and you have to try and master everything.
“Also, just as we were starting up, Brexit and Covid happened, which meant our original plan for the route to market had to change. Now we’re growing, purifying, marketing, selling and delivering. So, I would not have got to this point without Cywain’s help.”