The Facilities

Providing the South West with around 5000 tonnes of fish every year

The Market Hall

In 1995 when Plymouth Fish Market opened and for the subsequent ten years, the building was more than adequate for the volume of fish landed.  In recent years, both the volume and value of fish landed through Plymouth Trawler Agents has more or less doubled putting the infrastructure under considerable strain.

For those of you unfamiliar with the commercial fishing industry, it is governed by two major problems; firstly the weather and secondly fish quotas.  The obvious result of the unpredictable weather in the south west is that all but the largest boats are tied up in harbour for the duration of rough weather.  Predictably, nearly all of the fleet puts to sea as soon as the weather "fines away".  Consequently, fish landings are condensed creating a "feast or famine" supply of fish to market. 

This variable and erratic supply of fish creates difficulties for our Company in terms of employment levels, the logistics of handling and grading up to 60 tonnes of fish in a single shift and indeed selling the same quantity of fish on a single auction.  It is also problematic for buyers at auction trying to provide a regular supply of fish for supermarkets and other outlets.

The Market, situated on the eastern side of Sutton Harbour, is ideally situated for commercial and private transport bringing vessels' catches to Plymouth.  It is normally just a 10 minute drive from the A38. It is not signposted despite the fact that we are a thriving primary industry and business in what is now being called the "Ocean City." No doubt you will now realise that we have a rather large chip on our shoulder to go with all the fish we handle.  If you do wish to find us you can follow the brown tourist signs to the National Marine Aquarium.  We are next door to the Aquarium and you will see the signs for the fisheries complex.


 Vessels coming into the port to land their catches have the benefit of a retained depth of water in the harbour.  Fishermen who normally operate from tidal ports will tell you what a pleasure it is to work with a decent depth of water.  It not only makes landing easier but also helps with the never-ending  maintenance of the boat and its fishing gear.

Nevertheless, moorings are crowded for the commercial fishing fleet and there is a distinct lack of space for fishermen to check, mend and measure their fishing gear and if necessary change it as the seasons demand.   

In 2015, twenty years after the fishery complex was opened, remedial and refurbishment works were carried out to the fish market and to the chillers at the northern end of the market.  In addition a new chiller was built at the southern end of the market in order to help overcome some of the chronic shortage of suitable, chilled storage space.  Nevertheless, the poor design of the market coupled with the significant increase in business, means the operation of the market remains a considerable, logistical challenge when we are busy.   The much needed investment was made by our landlords Sutton Harbour Holdings with the assistance of 50% grant aid.

We are, of course, an industry in the middle of a prime tourist area so there will always be pressure on the space we occupy.  The Industry now occupies far less space on land and in the water than it used to within the harbour,  just at the time when the value of landings are at their highest ever.

It will be most interesting to see how the space issue pans out for the Fishing Industry in Sutton Harbour in the next few years.  Better use can usually be made of the available space but there's only so many fish boxes you can store in a penthouse flat, even if you can get them up there.



Transport for Buyers

There is a refrigerated distribution network for fresh fish around the UK.  We deal mainly with Cornwall Transport Ltd. Buyers purchasing fish on the auction market wishing to use this company will need to contact them direct to set up an account. Cornwall Transport do run a lorry from our auction at Plymouth to Newlyn from Monday to Friday inclusive.  The lorry makes several stops en route to deliver to different buyers.

Transport for Boats

In general, two firms deliver boats' catches to the auction market at Plymouth in addition to the PTA's own transport arm. A number of fishermen also deliver their own catches to our auction by road from a wide variety of ports.

For boats needing transport of their catches to Plymouth from ports east of Brixham, fishermen should contact either Macduff Exeter or Samways Fish Merchants from Bridport to see if they can arrange transport to Plymouth. 

The PTA uses Cornwall Transport to carry catches to our market from ports west of Brixham.  It also uses Cornwall Transport to pick up larger catches from any area.   A Cornwall Transport lorry is usually available on a late afternoon, Monday to Friday basis for boats from Newlyn wishing to send their catches to Plymouth. Any boats wishing to use Cornwall Transport for the carriage of their fish to Plymouth must make their arrangements through Plymouth Trawler Agents Ltd.  It is important that you make your requests for transport, giving as much notice as possible.  Transport requests for the weekend must be made by Friday midday at the latest.

The PTA runs two 7.5 tonne lorries and a van.  We collect fish from Mevagissey, Looe and Polperro on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Vessels from these ports must notify our appropriate driver by text of their wish to land, their time of landing and as accurate a count of boxes as possible.  In any event you must notify our driver by 4pm on the day of landing on the understanding it is not guaranteed we can pick up your catch.  Again,  it is important you notify the driver as soon as possible.   At times of heavy fishing, the lorry is likely to make daily trips to collect fish or multiple trips within a day.  Good information is the key to good transport.  There are strict rules governing drivers' hours and load limits so any help you can give our drivers will be much appreciated.

The PTA can collect fish from other ports e.g. Padstow and Torquay.  You should remember, however, that one of our 7.5 tonne lorries will be limited to carrying roughly 75 x 35kg  boxes which will equate to nearly a full load when you allow for boxes and ice.  You should also bear in mind that the PTA will not undertake any trip that will interfere with its normal schedule.  

Landing your Catch

Plymouth Trawler Agents (PTA) accepts landings/catches by sea in Sutton Harbour or overland from other ports. Vessels wishing to land by sea should always always call Sutton Harbour Lock (SHL) on VHF Channel 12 to gain access to the harbour.  Larger vessels should always contact SHL in advance on 01752 204732 to ensure there will be sufficient draught for them to enter the harbour.

Vessel owners wishing to land to the PTA Auction Market for the first time must register with the PTA office on 01752 262816 before landing. You will need to have the following information to hand:-

1. Owner's name, address, telephone number/s, e-mail, bank details and settling requirements.

2. Full vessel name, PLN number, contact details for the boat and skipper, which Producer Organisation (PO) the vessel is attached to if any and whether the vessel is under or over 10 metres in registered length.  

Landings by sea in the harbour

Shore-based landing staff will provide quayside assistance while you are landing but our staff are not allowed aboard vessels.  Our Company takes responsiblity for the care and security of your catch from the time we take temporary possession of it on the quayside until it is sold at auction when it becomes the property of the appropriate buyer.

All we ask of fishermen landing the catch is that the fish is landed in the best possible condition, that it is separated into species as much as space aboard the vessel permits and each and every box is clearly ticketed with the name and PLN number of the boat whenever individual name printed boxes are not used.

Vessels wishing to land after 2100 hours and before 0500 hours the next day should always 'phone  the office no. to ensure staff will be available to meet them.

The market is normally closed for landings on Saturdays between 1130 hours and 1700 hours and on Sundays all day until 1700 hours.

Overland Catches

Shore staff will assist you with the unloading of vans or lorries and the same hours and advice applies as for landings by sea. Overland fish should always be accompanied by a transport document as it is a legal requirement.


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