A precious catch: How Pete Day is preserving the sounds of Devon’s fishing industry

The practice of taking photos to capture a moment in time is well-established, but nowadays more and more people are turning to sound as a tool to preserve memories and document changing environments. One of those people is dBs tutor Pete Day, who recently set out to record the ebbs and flows of Brixham Fishing Port for the British Library’s audio archive.

Chart-topping mix engineer and dBs Course Leader Pete DayDespite having 13 top-ten hits and six number-one singles to his name, dBs Tutor Pete Day is not one to rest on his laurels. As well as passing on his expertise to the next generation of audio professionals through his role as Course Leader for our FdA in Music and Audio Technology, Pete is currently broadening his own knowledge-base by completing an MA in Innovation in Sound.

As part of his research, Pete has expanded his practice out of the studio in a bid to capture an audio snapshot of his hometown, Brixham. Brixham is famous for its fishing port, where over 100 local boats catch and sell their fish at the local market. 

“I initially wanted to document what I thought was a bleak and dying fishing industry in Brixham,” Pete said. “However, after spending time in the port and talking to Janet Pettit of the Brixham Heritage Museum, I realise now that it is thriving. The present ‘Brexit’ situation and the ensuing difficulties exporting fish to the European Union, is simply a part of the general ebb and flow of the port since the 1400s”.

“The original idea was to record the fish auction which would have been loud and in a dialect that few would understand. Due to COVID, this has now been replaced with online bidding. This goes to show that if we do not capture and archive environmental sounds they may disappear.” 

HubSpot Video

Pete's recording of Brixham Fishing Port (best listened to with headphones)

Recording in a type of enhanced binaural audio called 'Ambeo', Pete documented the sounds of the fishing market, as well as the boats landing their catches. Binaural audio is the practice of recording two-channel audio (left and right channels) in a way that mimics human hearing. This results in an immersive listening experience that transports listeners to the time and place of the recording. 

The atmospheric quality of Pete’s recordings was recognised by Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Environmental and Wildlife Sounds for the British Library, who is currently in the process of adding the soundscapes to the library’s online archive. 

If you would like to find out more about Pete Day, why not take a look at his tutor profile? You can also check out the course page for the Music and Audio Technology degree he leads in Plymouth.


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