Mr Uphilldowndale and I found ourselves down at the fish quay in Salcombe one morning. It was a bit of an eye opener.
There aren’t the vast numbers of fishing boats I imagine there were in years gone by. But none the less there was frenetic industry.
One boat was tied up at the quay, The Emma Jane, her crew of six were busy unloading some their catch of crab in to floating ‘fish boxes’ and getting ready to sail.
She goes out for up to six days at a time, and her catch of crab and lobsters are kept alive and in good condition in vivier tanks on board (more about that in a moment).
In addition a larger floating fish box was being unloaded of its live cargo.
Some crabs seemed not best pleased and were making a break for freedom.
We were a little stunned at the quantity of crabs ( this isn’t just one layer of crabs, there are many many more below). The box had been hauled up the slipway (or maybe the tide had fallen as they worked, who am I to know about such things, I live about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK. I just imagine it’s best to work with the tide not against it).
We were also surprised to see that the crabs, once out of the fish box and weighed were put into a articulated lorry, with vivier tanks of well oxygenated sea water (vivier means ‘fish tank’)
to keep them alive and in tip top condition for their onward journey to Portugal, yes Portugal, mind they could have also have gone to France Spain, Hong Kong and mainland China. You can see the size of the floating fish box in the shot above.
Salcombe crabs are obviously a very valuable catch, they are also very labour intensive one. We were told by harbour staff they are caught in crab pots, the muscle in their main claw is cut to stop them attacking each other in the fish box. The smaller fishing boats return each day with their catch and add them to the fish box.
The aim is to keep them in the fish box the minimum amount of time possible as they are not feeding whilst in the box.
And if you are wondering what happens to all those crab shells, in a moment of serendipity, I stumbled across the answer today, when looking for felting wool, who would have thought it; apparently you can make fibre from the chitosan in the shells. not to mention anti-fungal treatments for seeds and in medical dressings to reduce bleeding. My, blogging is so educational.