A RARE fish sparked a bidding war at Brixham fish market yesterday when a South Devon skipper netted the 6ft 6in specimen off Portland Bill.
Half a dozen fish merchants vied to buy the whopping 25kg (55lb) meagre fish caught by skipper Dave Wilson on board Propitious.
This type of fish is so rare in British waters, the meagre caught by Dave is only the third netted here since 1998, and the biggest.
The bidding war, led by Brixham Trawler Agents head auctioneer Barry Young, was eventually won by Robert Simonetti of Brixham- based Roberts Fisheries, who paid £150 for the fish.
Robert has sold it to a Cornish fish merchant who in turn has sold it to a top restaurant in the north of England.
Robert said: "It is very rare fish that's usually found in the Mediterranean. I think it's quite a pretty fish. It's got silvery coloured big scales.
"It's a white fish, a bit like sea bass, and I asked the merchant to cut it up so I can taste a bit because I've never actually tried it.
"It's great it was caught by a local fisherman — we always like to see something different.
"Brixham has a diverse fishery — we get a lot of different types of fish here and to see another type is just fantastic.
"It's difficult to say what it's worth because we haven't got a track record.
"A few people bid for it. I probably would have paid up to £300 for it, even if I had to sell it on a cost price,
"It would have been worth it just for the novelty value."
The fish is so unusual in these waters, the Brixham-based Marine Management Organisation asked Dave to hold off selling it for a day to enable them to identify its exact species.
Marine officer Beshlie Pool said: "Dave phoned our office to see if it was something he could sell or not because it's a huge fish and he'd never seen one like it before.
"We are 90 per cent sure it is a meagre fish but we wanted to a final identification from an expert at the Marine Fish Information Services.
"Meagre are rare in these waters although they are quite common in the Med. We think it was just randomly out of its range.
"Apparently, they taste really nice. They're quite a big thing in Turkey so next time I go, I'll make sure I have one."