Associated Projects and web sites that Fraser works with:
Eat The Beach
A guide to the edible seashore
Shellfish - Seaweed - Plants - Recipes
Coastal Survival Handbook No.1
By Fraser Christian.
Fraser Christian grew up in the South Cotswold and as a young boy enjoyed the surrounding countryside and the wilder parts of the UK. As a Boy Scout he even reached the summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest peak in the UK and also climbed England’s Scafell Pike in the Lake District. Fraser’s other interests and achievements include conservation, self-sufficiency, backwoods cookery and personal survival techniques. The later includes fishing, shooting and trapping. In addition to this he has learnt about shelter building and wild-food foraging inspiration came from legends such as John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman and his book “The SAS survival Handbook”.
Upon Leaving School, Fraser embarked on a college course in catering and worked towards becoming a chef. He left college with the highest exam result of any student and ranked in the top ten in the country and received a honours distinction in catering. Whilst at college studying nutrients he discovered the secret healing properties of herbs and that Herbs are not only very good for the digestive system, but also the well being of the whole body. Since then he has continued exploring herbal benefits and the vast range of wild foods and medicines. Environmental issues lay close to his heart. With his wealth of knowledge Fraser would love to share his views about the environment and the oceans, especially where fishing is concerned.
Fraser also hosted and contributed to the fish events at River Cottage HQ owned by the famous TV personality and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the Devon and Dorset border.
As a humanitarian Fraser believes that self-sufficiency is the key to a balanced mind and allows release from responsibilities of society and others that provide basic human requirements that is key to self-preservation and existence. Fishing is now the medium he works most closely with and is aiming to educate people on how they can protect the world’s marine environment and its rich and diverse sources of food and teach them to be able to collect it, catch it, prepare it, cook it and enjoy it.
Article from Country Living magazine 2008.
The River Cottage way
WORDS BY LISA SYKES
Dorset fisherman Fraser Christian believes catching your own fish is the key to self-sufficiency.
When the little town of Lyme Regis glows rosy pink in the early morning sun, the fishy tang in the air and the prospect of catching your own supper makes the idea of self-sufficiency in fish (on a summers day at least) seem a simple one.
The reality is that while more and more of us are growing our own fruit and vegetables, baking bread and keeping hens, very few of us catch fresh fish. But most of us eat it and therein lies the problem, were consumers in the hands of those who fish for us.
Fraser Christian, skipper of the Neptune on which he hosts River Cottage's popular Catch and Cook courses, is holding court on his favourite subject: fish and where to find them.
We joined him aboard ship to discover his line of thoughts, as we edge away from The Cobb on a calm sea, he issues instructions to prepare the rods and lines. A charter fisherman, he catches for himself, too, and like all the day- boat licence holders who fish these waters, he doesn't have to go far; just a mile offshore is a world of underwater reefs and shallows where cod, pollack, mackerel, whiting, bass and black bream shelter from the current.
We catch all year here; bass particularly in the summer and autumn . a big one is worth £40 so you can make a bit of money with just a few lines. Quotas and EU regulations seem a world away from this traditional rod-and-line fishing
But our first bite is obviously something bigger, straining the reel, and lifting it's a two-man job
to net and land a beautiful sea bass.
As with any sailor worth his salt there's a tale to tell about Fraser. A descendent of Fletcher Christian who famously led the mutiny on The Bounty, he actually grew up in Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, about as far from salty sailors as you can get, but it's in my blood, isn't it? He became a fishermen when his job as a plasterer in Brighton didn't work out: I bought my first fishing boat as a kind of therapy. He then spent five years in Sussex learning to fish with legendary sea-fishing guru Hugh Stoker's books.
Fraser has strong opinions on many subjects . on fish farming, for example,
his logic that using three tonnes of wild fish to produce just one tonne of food for farmed fish is both unsustainable and plain stupid, is wholly convincing. In between offering his views, he issues instructions on how long to let out the line and how to tell if you've hooked something. He's proud of fishing skills as a tool of self-sufficiency and could survive off the land. I know how to light a fire and I can catch fish. He also knows how to do mackerel sashimi served a little rough and ready on the deck of the Neptune, but delicious nonetheless.
One man and his rod . what impact does it have? Fraser asks. I'm lucky in that I can catch my own fish. But we all need to make the link that the sea is a source of food. What can you do if you donft fish? Look at your cleaning products, toiletries, your washing machine water and toilet waste . where do they go? Lyme looks beautiful but just a mile offshore is a sewage outfall. I think that caring about this and using eco-friendly products is even more important than where you buy your fish from, for the sake of the health of the sea.
There's something about fishing on open water that makes you think about the bigger picture. Certainly it all seems possible on a calm, clear day in Lyme Bay. Admittedly, it's not like fishing on a struggling trawler in the North Sea in mid-winter but it's surely the best way to shopfor your supper.