Brexit 'solely responsible' for fishing issues says Karleskind
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Megrim and spider crab – two of the biggest catches for boats in the county – are set to be given the more appetising names of Cornish sole and Cornish King crab. Until the UK’s Brexit transition period expired on December 31, about 95 percent of megrim and 85 percent of spider crabs landed by Cornish trawlers was exported to the EU.
Spain had a particularly high demand and was one of the main markets for the catch.
But since the start of the year this trade has been dealt multiple blows by the introduction of lengthy paperwork requirements, border checks and red tape.
The rebranding bid is being spearheaded by the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO).
The group conducted research with chefs and consumers to figure out ways to sell more of the products in Britain.
Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the CFPO, said consumers are turned off by the name “megrim” due to the sounding of it.
He told The Times: “There’s this negative thing with megrim – it’s a ‘grim’ connotation.”
And he said wholesalers have trouble selling spider crab in the UK because of its name but also due to the fact that “it doesn’t look as pretty as brown crab”.
If the name changes are given the green light, the group hopes that Cornish sole will become as popular as its more expensive cousin Dover sole.
Mr Trebilcock said trying to sell megrim and spider crab to Europe “in the current climate is not a pleasant experience”.
He stressed that both species are usually in high demand on the continent, something which the group hopes to replicate at home.
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He said: “The two species are particularly under-loved in this country but really popular with some of our export markets.”
Following consultations with chefs and shoppers, the CFPO decided to pursue the name changes as a quick and easy way to make the products more appealing.
Mr Trebilcock said: “Our investigation revealed that simply by calling it Cornish sole, straight away more people were willing to try it and were more interested in finding out where it came from.”
In 2007 Marks & Spencer reported a boom in sales of fresh pilchards after they were renamed Cornish sardines.
And restaurants experienced an increase in interest in grenadier after their name was changed from rattails.
Another notable name change in the fishing world was for slimehead which was rebranded as orange roughy – something which immediately made it more popular with consumers.
Last week a plush new fishing facility in St Ives was given the go-ahead, offering hope to the local industry.
Cornwall Council said the site will help the local sector combat the huge fall in demand for fish caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The project was given £50,000 funding out of the £500,000 package allocated to St Ive’s as part of the Government’s Accelerated Towns Fund.
It will go towards the construction of a fishing facility on St Ives’ Quay for fishermen to sell the catch of the day to tourists and locals, without the need for the middle man.
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