PUBLISHED: 01:01 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:47 10 June 2010
EXMOUTH fishermen have been gifted a late Christmas present this year an unexpected influx of valuable anchovy attracted by unusually warm waters off the coast of Devon. Record catches of anchovies, which fetch about £2,000 per ton - 10 times the value
EXMOUTH fishermen have been gifted a late Christmas present this year - an unexpected influx of valuable anchovy attracted by unusually warm waters off the coast of Devon.Record catches of anchovies, which fetch about £2,000 per ton - 10 times the value of the fishermen's usual catch of sprats are being netted by fishermen who are in buoyant mood following the surprising rise in the number of fish more commonly found in warm seas like the Mediterranean.Restaurants chefs, who try to use local ingredients, have said they are delighted they can now serve the anchovies, which began appearing off the Devon coast a few months ago, without having to source them from abroad.There are no quotas for anchovies in British waters so the boats are entitled to land as many as they can, and hundreds of tonnes of the fish have been hauled in over the past few weeks.Jim Portus, chief executive of the South West fish producers' organisation, said: "It is relatively unusual for anchovies to be in the English Channel. "The last time they were here in any quantity was about 20 years ago. Luckily for us they've been close to the shore so the in-shore fishing boats have benefited from them."The phenomenon is thought to be related to a weather cycle called North Atlantic Oscillation. "The warmer water tends to be off the coast of Portugal and Spain, but occasionally it comes near England and the Bristol Channel."The issue for fishermen was having the market infrastructure to take advantage of the harvest, he added.Whilst much of the fish is finding its way on to the UK dinner plate, some is being sold to Spain and Portugal where quotas restrict what can be caught.