The Waveney whopper
By Guy Campbell
We've all heard fishermen boasting about the size of their catches. But this time we have pictorial evidence of a huge halibut caught off the Suffolk coast. It might even lead to a re-think by local restuarants on buying locally-caught cod.
The halibut at The Crown, Southwold
Is it the biggest halibut ever caught on a line off the Suffolk coast? Certainly fishermen in Southwold and Lowestoft think so. Local brewers and hoteliers Adnams say they're so impressed with the size and quality of the catch, they're now considering putting cod back onto their menus after a gap of six years.
The line-caught halibut weighs 15kg (over 37 pounds) and was landed on the morning of Tuesday 19 February 2008 by Lowestoft skipper Steve Wightman in his boat Maximus. It will now be enjoyed by diners at The Crown and The Swan hotels in Southwold.
Experts say its size and quality reveal a lot about how the North Sea fish stocks are slowly recovering after years of decline. John Yeardley from East Coast Fish said: "I've been in the fish trade for nearly forty years and I've never seen a line-caught halibut of that size and quality before.
"It's a sign of things to come because if we keep line-catching fish we haven't got a problem. However, once we start trawling it, then we have a problem.''
"There's not so much trawling now so this could be the start of a trend. Bigger fish are being landed and the fisherman will get better prices. We are also seeing bigger cod landed because the smaller cod are not being trawled up.''
Mr Yeardley said he'd noticed a lot of larger fish being landed at Lowestoft over the past few weeks and if good fish husbandry is carried out by fishermen like Steve, then the future is looking much brighter for the Suffolk industry which has shrunk so much in recent years.
John Yeardley with the fish
Adnams has bought the massive halibut and they say because of the environmentally-friendly way it and other fish are now being caught, and the size and quality of the catch, they're considering putting cod back on their restuarant menus.
Cod was taken off the menu in 2002 as a gesture to help conserve dwindling stocks. Diners at The Crown in Southwold were offered hoki - a New Zealand fish with a similar taste - instead.
last updated: 21/04/2008 at 15:53