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Scallops to dive for

Dec 7 2012

Dolphin-spotting and diving for scallops off Jersey’s reefs – it’s all in a day’s work for Chris Gould, who sources Seafish Café’s King scallops… straight from the sea bed.

The plump scallops on the Seafish menu have all been hand-selected, and lifted from the ocean floor by diver Chris Gould, who believes diving for scallops is a much more sustainable and responsible way to source this sought-after seafood.

‘I collect by hand the largest individual scallops that are in the best condition, causing them the minimum damage and stress leaving the smaller scallops and rest of the marine life and seabed untouched, unlike the process of dredging. We’re all interested in the provenance of our food, and how it’s arrived on our plate, and if scallops are hand dived, you know you’re tapping into local sustainability’.

What does a typical day include?

We’ll have decided the day before where we’re heading, based on the tides and the weather. A great spot is the Ecréhous where the quality of the scallops is incredible. It’s a shallow reef, undisturbed by dredgers and it’s just a lovely place to dive with stunning clear water.

How many would you collect in a day?

It depends. Scallops have their favourite spots on the sea bed, so you have to find them first. It sounds strange, but you have to hunt them, swimming into the tide so they don’t see or hear you coming and close tightly, which makes them very difficult to spot in the soft sand. I’d try to collect 200-300 a day, but you have to know the seabed, and understand scallops and how they’re behaving.

What’s different about hand dived scallops?

They’re Hand picked, so they don’t suffer stress or collect grit, they’re so fresh – often still moving when we deliver them to the Seafish Café. Scallops are like sponges; if they spend time in fresh water, they’ll just soak it up. Ours never touch fresh water so they stay firm and meaty, giving you a much better taste experience.

It sounds like a great job!

It is amazing. I love my job and am fortunate to be able to do something I love, but like everything it has its ups and downs, when the sea is cold and rough its not as idealic as it sounds. I am proud to be doing my lot for locally sustainable fishing and also seeing this unique side of Jersey, diving in the clear water and watching cuttlefish and Dover sole swim past. That’s hard to beat!