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Steve Hartley is the founder of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, New Quay. He now runs Dolphin Survey Boat Trips, however previously fished the waters of Cardigan Bay.

A member of our Living Seas Team sat down with Steve, to discuss his memories of life in the Bay. Here, he discusses changes in the Mackerel since the 1970's/1980's.

Recollection as follows:

"In the late 70s, early 80s we used to hand-line for mackerel – that has changed massively. We used to go out, 3 men on a boat, hand-lining and it would be nothing for us to catch maybe 100 dozen per man on the boat that morning. We’d land by 8 or 9 in the morning, literally with the deck full – we’d block the scuppers with bits of timber so they wouldn’t pour out the scuppers, and we’d have to shuffle round deck through all the fish, so we didn’t tread on them! The deck would just be covered in a sea, just full of mackerel!

Then we’d count and box them – I think it was 10 dozen per box. We’d land them ashore and the carriers would be there with their vans – Morris 1000s or Maxis. Maxis were ideal because the fish boxes fitted perfectly in the back of an Austin Maxi! And they’d go off, driving round on their rounds to sell them.

That has been absolutely transformed, a transformation that I have seen, very much so. It’s nothing like that now…it’s been devastated…not because of the hand-lining for mackerel, but by the huge factory ships off Scotland. They literally can fill the boat in one haul – they can scoop us thousands of tonnes of mackerel in one go. It’s been devastating."

To learn more about Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, please visit:

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