Morecambe Bay shrimping not dead yet, say experts

Ray Edmondson. Photo courtesy of Delicious magazine.
Ray Edmondson. Photo courtesy of Delicious magazine.

Morecambe’s famous potted shrimps are in safe hands for the time being – despite claims their days may be numbered.

Bay fishermen and shrimp suppliers are still battling on against the odds despite national food magazine Delicious saying that our shrimps may be “in danger of dying out”.

Experts say while it may have been a tough year for shrimping in the bay there is no imminent threat to the local industry.

They spoke to The Visitor after leading UK food publication ‘Delicious’ included Morecambe Bay potted shrimps in an article called ‘Save Britain’s Food Heritage’.

“Morecambe Bay shrimps are in danger of dying out,” said the article.

“It’s not the shrimps that are being depleted, it’s the art, craft and wiles required to catch them.”

They quoted long time Morecambe fisherman Ray Edmondson, 67, who said there is nobody to take over his Yorkshire Street shop if and when he eventually retires after 35 years of shrimping on the bay.

We asked Mr Edmondson if he felt Morecambe Bay shrimps were in danger of dying out and he said: “It’s not so far off.

“I have no plans to stop. But if I do finish, I don’t think there will be anybody taking over after me. The trouble with shrimps is they come and go. It wasn’t too bad last year. But this last month or two, there haven’t been so many. When it’s sunny it’s nice to go out and catch a few shrimps but there are so many drawbacks it’s a struggle. I sometimes think to myself, what’s the point?”

Claire Worrall from Flookburgh-based Furness Fish, Game and Supplies, owners of Baxters Potted Shrimps in Morecambe, agreed that it’s been a tough year for shrimping in Morecambe Bay.

But, she said, there are still several shrimping businesses in the bay and our shrimps remain in high demand.

“In Morecambe, there is also Mark Willacy (of Poulton Square) still out fishing,” she said.

“Baxters have the Royal Warrant to supply Morecambe Bay potted shrimps and they still go all over and to the royal households.

“On this side of the bay there is Frank Benson, who supplies potted shrimps to the Midland Hotel, and Ian McClure. We have six self-employed fishermen still out in the bay and we supply the Morecambe Hotel.

“The shrimps we’ve got in this year have been quite bad. But our season runs from August until the end of the year and we hope for better months to come. It’s all down to whether there are enough shrimps to keep us all going.”

Booths supermarket have also reported a 45 per cent rise in sales of Morecambe Bay shrimps since 2012, according to Delicious .