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Master Fishmonger accolade for Northern Irish seafood expert

Northern Ireland’s Hal Dawson is among 10 fishmongers recognised with the first accolade of Master Fishmonger. 

One of the best known personalities in the fish industry in the UK and Ireland, Mr Dawson received his certificate of achievement from the Princess Royal, in her capacity as Prime Warden of The Fishmongers’ Company. It was held at Fish Hall near old Billingsgate Market in London, the historic centre for standards of fishmongering since 1272.

Mr Dawson, who opened his first fishmonger shop in the 1970’s armed with just a pair of kitchen scissors and a set of his mother’s plastic weighing scales, now runs a successful consultancy specialising in training fishmongers worldwide.  He is the only fishmonger on the island of Ireland to achieve this recognition.

He declared this moment as the “biggest accolade of my long seafood career”. “It’s a tremendous honour and recognition of my work over many years to advance the interests of the fishing and seafood industry.”

Mr Dawson sold his fishmonger business and smokehouse in 2000 and developed a successful consultancy which has trained hundreds of fishmongers across Europe. He has provided consultancy services in Europe and further afield. He has led a series of courses on fish preparation skills at Kilkeel, Northern Ireland’s main fishing and seafood hub.

Princess Anne encouraged all fishmongers to be the guardians of excellence, not just with the preparation and selling of fish, but also as champions for healthy eating.

The prestigious award scheme recognises achievement for fishmongers at three levels of progression – Recognised, Advanced and Master.

In addition, those who have given a lifetime of contribution to the art of fishmongering may be bestowed as Companion Fishmongers.

Andrew Kenny, President of the National Federation of Fishmongers, said: “I believe the Master Fishmonger Standard is the most exciting thing to have happened to the retail seafood sector in a long time, promoting higher levels of knowledge, craft skills and setting a standard to be aspired too.

The Fishmongers’ Company is closely involved with monitoring salmon and fresh water fishing as well as the catching of shellfish throughout UK waters. It encourages research through grants and sponsorship and also publishes books on fish, such as Fish and Shellfish and The Fishmongers’ Company Cook Book.

The company retains many of its ancient trade duties, unlike some other Livery Companies, whose trades having become defunct through technological advances, act for the most part as charitable benefactors or ceremonial institutions.

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