Meet Our Local Heroes - Matt Slater
Founder of Cornwall Good Seafood Guide
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Matt Slater, I am a Cornish marine biologist with a passion for our amazing marine life. From a young age I was obsessed with fish, and have spent as much time as possible underwater, on or in the sea ever since.
I left Cornwall to study marine biology at the University of Liverpool and spent my final year on the Isle of Man. I then worked as a fisherman for 6 months before starting my first job in marine biology as an aquarist at Weymouth Sealife Centre. My wife and I then were lucky enough to travel for two years before returning to Cornwall, where we are most at home. I returned to aquarium work and ended up as the curator of Blue Reef aquarium for 12 years during which time I worked closely with fishermen and lectured at Cornwall College Newquay’s marine biology courses.
We know you that you work across three different businesses/charities, could you tell us about each of them?
For the past 8 years, I have been working at Cornwall Wildlife Trust as Marine Awareness Officer. The Trust is an amazing organisation that works with communities all over Cornwall to help look after wildlife and wild places. I have a varied work pattern, I lead the Shoresearch Project where we train volunteers to record wildlife on the seashore. I also lead our Seasearch Project where we train divers to record the wildlife they encounter underwater. Each year I organise a busy programme of dives and rockpooling surveys for these projects. I am also kept busy running our popular seafood information website - Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, which presents information on all 60 species of seafood landed by Cornish fishermen and helps us all make good choices when buying seafood.
Could you tell us a little bit more about how you came about creating the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide and how it works?
I feel it is vitally important that we all support our local fishing industry, particularly the fishermen who use sustainable methods and who target fish from well-managed stocks. Our project aims to help us all reconnect with the fishing industry and eat more local seafood - as it’s good for us and good for the ocean to be supporting sustainable fishing. Being involved in the creation of this project has definitely been the most rewarding part of my job and I am amazed how many people visit the site each month (approx. 8,000 new users per month)- people really want to know more about this complex industry and our independent angle provides trusted information and helps us all find local seafood to buy.
What got you into these roles?
Over the years I have collected interesting stories and facts about our marine life which help me to engage with people and I really love it when I manage to persuade people to appreciate the amazing creatures that share our seas! Did you know that crabs breathe through their armpits? That sea squirts are related to you and I? that anemones poo out of their mouths? I have loads more like this!!
Why do you choose to be based in Cornwall?
I am married with two teenage kids and we all love the water, spending most of our free time on the beach surfing and training with our local surf lifesaving club, Holywell Bay. This year I am training hard for the National surf lifesaving championships in August. I also have a famous surfing dog called Mango- she is now in retirement and we have a new puppy but its too early to say if she will be able to surf! I love Cornwall and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world