If there was ever a greater success story than Bart & his Father from New Forest Fish & Shellfish….
We have been fortunate to be working alongside these chaps for almost a year. We were totally sold by their incredible friendliness, knowledge, ethics, views on sustainable fishing, and two all round lovely guys! A Father who fishes, and the son who sells the fish…. Locally sourced, sustainably caught, it just doesn’t get much fresher. We met up with them to bring more insights to you.
New Forest Fish & Shellfish, where / how did it all begin?
New Forest Fish and Shellfish was started after my father Scott posted on his personal Facebook page just prior to the first lockdown. It was the time of panic buying and people genuinely concerned about securing food due to the looming pandemic. Dad simply wrote on his personal feed "hey guys, don't forget I am a fisherman, none of you will go hungry" - a post aimed squarely at offering a little food security if things really did get as bad as it seemed they would. A few of the family shared the post to their own pages which quickly resulted in a number of people asking for fish. I already had a dormant Facebook page for New Forest Fish and Shellfish that had previously been made to support an old business idea that didn't pan out. It was decided to let dad have the page to use for taking orders rather than his personal page. Initially my role was mainly helping on the social media side of things as I had a full-time job and could only help when I was not at work, dad fished and delivered his catch to an ever-growing number of people.
By the time the first lockdown came the business had grown and become so busy that it was a struggle for Dad to keep up on his own. Dad asked me if I wanted to join the new business and work with him full time, by then it had become increasingly difficult for me to stay at me job for a number of reasons, so I decided to join Dad and work with him.
As time passed Dad decided he wanted to concentrate on fishing and let me continue selling the catch, so I rolled my sleeves up and started offering the customers fish not just from Dad and local boats but other fish that we cannot catch locally. As the business grew it became apparent that there was now a need for premises, the main intention to be as a prep area to serve the deliveries and the requirements of what our customers wanted. We looked at a number of options but dad visited Danestream Farm to talk to the landlord after seeing the shop. Thankfully Dad knew the owner from many years ago which I think helped massively in such uncertain times for all.
It was at this point Dad suggested he step back from the sales side completely and leave me to forge my own way, clearly with his support but ultimately the shop was to be my business and my responsibility.
An incredible acheievement, age 22, setting up and launching your own shop. When did you open the shop doors?
New Forest fish and Shellfish opened the shop in the middle of November 2020 after I undertook and massive amount of work to get it up to standard, this included building work and the fit out. As I previously said the initial intention was more as a prep area than a shop but after working on the shop it was clear that I had to focus equally on both running the shop and maintaining the delivery business. We used social media to show the ongoing development of the shop and prior to opening it clear we were going to be busy with everyone wanting to come along and have a look. Being frank the shop trade has been better than my wildest dreams. I know it sounds a little self-serving but I'm very proud of my little shop.
The best bit is meeting all the customers and having them return time and time again. I consider my customers as friends and hope they feel the same about us.
Scott (And Buddy – their choccy Labrador) – you are in charge of the boat, and the fishing. How often are you out at sea fishing?
I fish locally all year round and as many days as it is possible to be at sea, the only thing that stop me is weather and the occasional breakdown..lol
Buddy joins me a little less these days as he is getting on a bit now and so I simply pick the days he comes based on the weather, if it's too choppy I leave him at home, although he is not very happy about that lol.
What local fish do you catch?
What we catch really depends on the season as it changes massively through 12 months. Through the year I can catch bass, bream, Dover sole, skate, Huss, red mullet, plaice, gurnard, grey mullet, crab, lobster, turbot, brill and founder and the few other bits and bobs.
What is the most impressive catch to date?
Although it's always lovely to catch a BIG bass or a BIG Turbot (pictured) I have to say what I consider the most "impressive catch" are the days when I have a really good mix of lots of different species. In the late Autumn this can consist of 20 different types of fish and at that time of year the fishing tends to be pretty good anyway.
We have loved your live cook along (check out on Facebook if you haven’t yet!) – what is your number one favourite fish dish to cook?
Sounds a bit rubbish but I cannot answer that with a single favourite fish, being honest I love cooking all types of seafood as there is always something stunning each fish can be used for.
Where else, aside from your shop and home deliveries, can people get hold of your fish?
We supply a number of local caterers and pubs/restaurants and are asked almost daily new business if we can supply them. Our commercial customers are truly important to us and like with our retain customers we consider them friends as well as customers.
Thanks so much to Bart & Scott. Fountains of knowledge and ideas. I, for one, have learned so much from them. Head on down to Danestream Farm to pay them a visit if you haven’t already. Sway Road, BH25 5QU.