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The Great Dorset Seafood campaign launch

August 4, 2011

For Wildlife for Dorset for You.

By Emma Rance, Marine Conservation Officer

The time had come to launch the Great Dorset Seafood campaign to encourage a return to a healthy and productive marine environment through the responsible sourcing of seafood.   D-Day was set.  It was to be at the Dorset Seafood Festival on the 9th and 10th of July 2011.

A selection of responsibly sourced Dorset seafood on our display at the Dorset Seafood Festival

After careful consideration, I approached some Purbeck fishers with a view to sourcing pot-caught shellfish and line caught finfish for event.  The idea of having a fish counter had been suggested and it would be a great way to summon interest and create conversation around the campaign.

Kathryn Dawson DWT, Lily-Mischa Perrige age 3 and Mum Lisa admiring some Great Dorset Seafood. Photo by N Hoar

Not that we needed to.  We had the charismatic Cameron Farquharson.

Mr Cameron "Persil" Farquharson. Primed for action

Our Kingcombe Head Chef arrived and looked the bees knees in his chef’s whites.  I was pushing it with my request for a tartan bandana and bag pipes.  His role for the weekend was to woo the crowds (which he did all too easily) with his concoxions of Great Dorset Seafood; passionately prepared in minutes but incredibly tasty all the same.

Cameron prepares some succulent seafood

The scheduled cooking demonstrations were at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm although any time visitors asked Cameron about a dish, no sooner had they said “what’s in the pot Jack?” he’d whipped up another.  Cameron must have cooked at least 6 dishes on both days.  Each and every one attracted a bustle of activity in and outside the tent.  I introduced each session with a short speech on the campaign’s objectives and why it was important for the marine wildlife, before handing over to Cameron by asking in an almost Aussie style strangely, “what are you going to cook for us today?”

One of the many shellfish dishes cooked by a happy chef.

There were a variety of dishes; a Mediterranean dish of spider crab and velvet and a Provencal plate of seabass along with many other servings.  The audience patiently waited for their forks before diving in and trying out species they’d never considered or hadn’t the confidence to cook.   Sometimes, we had to request that individuals stepped back after they’d had their share.  They couldn’t get enough!

Tucking into some Great Dorset Seafood. If only the forks were bigger.

Throughout the warm sunny day, we had a steady stream of interest and gathered many recommendations for potential supporting outlets in Dorset.  These were restaurants, cafes, chippies and fishmongers who were known to serve up Great Dorset Seafood.

Kathryn gathers information on potential outlets selling Great Dorset Seafood

It was great to meet up with the owners and chefs of other outlets who were keen to show their support and take the Great Dorset Seafood pledge of  supplying responsibly sourced, low impact Dorset seafood.  (More info on these terms can be found here).  In return, they would be offered recognition through the Great Dorset Seafood outlet directory.  Take a look at the link to find out more.

Two such chefs were Russell Brown and Matt Follas.  Russell is the owner and head chef of Sienna in Dorchester and Matt owns the Wild Garlic in Beaminster.  Both chefs were happy to pledge their support for the Great Dorset Seafood campaign acknowledging a keen desire to support well managed fisheries and responsible sourcing.  I explained that through the campaign we would be reviewing the Dorset fishery which would allow us all to understand in more depth exactly what conservation measures were in place to allow us to make informed choices over the seafood we buy.

Mat Follas, (Yours Truly) and Russell Brown support the Great Dorset Seafood campaign. Photo by P Tinsley

Both Russell and Matt were issued with their Great Dorset Seafood window stickers (shown below) to display in their restaurants.  All information on their responsible sourcing and the Great Dorset Seafood they supply is detailed here.  We will continue to build this dierectory as the campagin develops.

Look out for this window sticker in all Great Dorset Seafood supporting outlets

Toward the end of the day, the wind picked up and the tent began to shake.  After a few moments of “blimey we nearly lost it there”, we decided it would be safe to leave the tent insitu ready for the second day and headed over to the beach for a well earned evening’s rest.

Thanks to everyone who made this event possible.  It was a golden opportunity to showcase our new campaign and there were many enlightened wildlife enthusiasts/seafood lovers (and non-seafood lovers I might add).

Lovers of Great Dorset Seafood united for the launch! Some more excited than others. Photo by N Hoar.

I will look forward to organising many more Great Dorset Seafood events all along the coast.  These will offer the opportunity to meet the many inshore fishers of Great Dorset Seafood, see fish mongering demonstration and “catch of the day” BBQs.

In the meantime, follow the campaign through the Twitter feed @GtDorsetSeafood and recommend your favourite outlet to add to the Great Dorset Seafood directory?  You can upload your suggestions under our “support us” page.


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