My Name is Alan Steer, owner/ Skipper of a 45ft traditionally built wooden crab fishing boat called the Superb-us based in the port of Dartmouth, South Devon. I am a third generation crab fisherman from the small fishing village of Beesands which is positioned to the southern end of Start Bay. I started fishing with my father whilst I was still at school and by the age of 14 I had 20 pots around the shore near to Start Point. When I left school I joined the youth training scheme of the time for young fishermen, and spent my time over the next couple of years between college at Falmouth and at sea on my Fathers boat. When I completed my college course I started working full time on the family boat. In 1997 my Father retired and I took over the day to day running of the business and skippering the Superb-us.
My connection with seafood
I have always had a strong passion for everything to do with the sea, I think its been bred in to me over generations. When I am not out on the Superb-us working strings of crab pots you can find me in my small beach boat diving for scallops or rod and line fishing for Bass. All these things help with my second passion, cooking, and especially cooking seafood. I believe in keeping my dishes simple and letting the true flavours of the fish and shellfish shine through. But the key to this is using the freshest ingredients. The area in which I fish is called the IPA (Inshore Potting Agreement). This is the same area that my father and grandfather fished. The IPA covers an area from the East of Dartmouth to the west of Salcombe and extends out to the 6 mile limit in places. This area started off with a gentlemen agreement in the early 70s between the crab fishermen and the mobile gear boats and, more recently, was covered by a byelaw and has now been incorporated in to the Skerry Bank Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), showing that the management and fishing methods used by the inshore crab fleet have been recognised as protecting the IPA in an environmentally friendly way and the importance of this area for protecting other fish stocks.
Why sustainability is important to me
Sustainable fishing is key to the long term future, not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Here in our South Devon fishery we have always used best practice to achieve this. I am currently sitting on the steering group for "Fishing into the Future" and also working closely with members of the GAP 2 project who have been going to sea with us for the past twelve months collecting data on crab stocks and migratory patterns to help us understand and manage these stocks in an ever increasing sustainable and environmentally friendly way.