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57 Dartmouth at work


Fishing is a pivotal part of everyday life in Dartmouth. This month we speak to three people from the world of commercial fishing – someone who makes the gear, another that uses it and a man who sells the catch!


Interviews by Steph Woolvin…


Mike Cornish Fishing supplies


What goes on at Mike Cornish Fishing Supplies? We make crab pots, inkwells, creels, prawn pots, traps and lobster pots in our Paignton factory. We stock all sorts of other equipment like fenders, buoys and rope. We also buy and sell bait.


Who are your main customers? Individual fishermen rather than big organisations. Most of our custom- ers are in Devon but we supply to fishermen as far east as Weymouth and as far south as the Channel Islands. Some of our best customers are in Dartmouth and Kingswear; we deliver boxes of bait to them down on the quayside each morning.


Where do you get your bait from? Two of us go down to Brixham Fish Market at 5.30am every weekday. We try and get the best price for things like gurnard and dogfish.


How long does it take your team to make a crab/ lobsterpot? Three and a half hours to make the rectangular parlour pots and two


hours for a circular inkwell. The parlours are bigger and they have different chambers so it’s harder for the crabs and lobsters to escape. Building them is a skill - it takes time to learn the trade.


Where do you get your rope from? Portugal. We always have done as they make the strongest rope. Years ago loads of rope manufacturers closed because the Portuguese were making great rope and selling it cheaply. We have stuck with them.


Building them is a skill - it takes time to learn the trade.


How strong do you need to be to work here? Very and if you aren’t when you start you soon will be! We have 40 kilo boxes of bait to shift around, some of the fishing pots are 20 kilos and the rope is really heavy, especially if there’s lead inside. My daughter does exactly the same tasks as the men.


This is very much a family business isn’t it? You could say that! We have been going 50 years and three genera- tions of our family work here doing admin roles and on the factory floor. There are seven of us in total.


Do you get fed up seeing so much of each other at work and at home?! No, we are very close. We have open house days at mine when all the family come round for food. I think working together has made us stronger. The only time it becomes problematic is when there is a big family event like a wedding or a holiday because we either have to shut down or pull straws to see who has to stay behind and work!


How would your family describe you? I have asked them and the answer is - generous, strong minded and “just Dad”.


How did you start your working life? As a fisherman. That’s how I got into the retail side of things actually. All us fisherman used to use Airedale


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