Cornish fishers to rename ‘under-loved’ species to attract British buyers

The spider crab and megrim will be rebranded to boost their appeal to British consumers in the domestic market as fishermen undergo difficulties selling their two biggest exports. The Megim sole will be sold as the Cornish sole and the spider crab rebranded as Cornish King crab. 

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This is primarily driven by the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation who carried out research with chefs and consumers. Paul Trebilcock from CFPO pointed out how the names had negative connotations. Both species would rely on European exports which are not deemed as a “pleasant experience” in the current climate. The idea is to increase the likeliness of the species in the local market to match the demand of export markets where they are thriving. 

Annually over 1000 tonnes of Megim sole are brought into Newlyn which accounts for 98% of Cornwall's biggest fish market. 85% of the Spider crab is currently exported to Spain. The Brexit trade disruption early this year meant additional paperwork and border checks are required when exporting the product. Trebilcock told the BBC that simply calling it Cornish Sole attracted more people who were eager to try it out and interested in finding out where it came from. 

The intention is to have more people taste it and discover for themselves how good spider crab is. There are large quantities of spider crab out there making it a sustainable food alternative with great meat. The spider crab suffers from its appearance and its name. When compared to the brown crab, one would opt for the latter. 

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Data shows that 95 percent of Megrim and 85 percent of Spider crabs caught before 2021 were exported to the EU. Cornish fishermen are trying to pursue a domestic market strategy through this image and name makeover after consulting with their buyers, consumers, and restaurants.

Fish rebranding

Cornish sole can easily become as popular as its expensive cousin the Dover sole. The Times revealed that CFPO will work with chef James Strawbridge to come up with recipes for both species. 

Patagonian toothfish had its name changed to the Chilean seabass in the United States and Canada. There are the anglerfish which is now known as monkfish. Pilchards were also sold as Cornish sardines. 

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The move was after the Cornwall Council announced the start of the new fishing facility project at St Ives targeting the local fishing industry in combating the collapse of traditional demand brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The project won £50,000 in funding from a £500,000 advanced funding allocated as part of the Government's Accelerated Towns Fund. This will help the construction of new fishing facilities on St Ives' Quay where fishermen can sell their catch directly to the town residents and visitors. This project will directly support 22 fishermen. St. Ives alongside Camborne, Truro, and Penzance was one of the 100 towns shortlisted across England to get funding from the Government’s Towns Fund. 

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