Sustainable fish, why should we care?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th June 2015
With many fish stocks in serious decline, overfishing has become a big threat to marine wildlife and habitats. Around 70% of the world’s fish stocks are fully or over fished, and sustainable fishing has never been so important. We took a trip to The Grand Hotel in Brighton to learn more about sustainability and the importance of fresh fish. Alan White, Bill Brock, Kier FosterHead chef at GB1 restaurant at The Grand, Alan White, is definitely an advocate for cooking with sustainable fish, saying: “The supply of fish available in the UK is good and plentiful, what is important is buying and using the fish at the right time of the year.” “We must allow the stocks to build up in the sea and not buy the wrong thing at the wrong time because the whole industry will be in a mess if we use up all the fish.” Reports suggest that the level of fish in the oceans is at only 10% of its pre-industrial population, with fish like cod being severely over fished. Over the last few years the regulation of cod fishing has meant that the number of cod in the oceans is once again increasing. Alan said: “It is important to look at alternatives to cod, a lot of them are understated. Even if you go to a fish and chip shop there is usually a rockfish on the menu, it is a great fish for fish and chips but I don’t think it gets sold as much as it should.” 90% of The Grand’s seafood is sourced within eight miles of the hotel, which allows the hotel to get the fish while they are still very fresh. There is a continuous argument over when fish is best to cook and whether frozen or fresh fish is best. Alan is a supporter of using fresh fish but warns that when most fish are caught they are not immediately best for cooking. food 2 He said: “Usually, when it is caught the fish goes into the rigor mortis stage, and about 12 hours after that the fish starts to relax, and any time after that is a good time. “Some of our fish is caught through the night and comes into the fish market at around five in the morning, and we are using it around six/seven o’clock that night, so for us it is right at its peak time, at the height of its freshness.” But freshness isn’t the only reason they get their fish locally. Alan said: “We are very lucky that the hotel is right on the sea front, and for me to support local businesses with a big iconic hotel is a nice clear message to the market that we are using local suppliers and local day boats. “These men build their lives around fishing and they are just trying to make a living. To support these people, to me, is really important.” fish shop 2Alan thinks that more people should actually go to the fish markets themselves and see the fish that they are buying, whether that be just for the household or cooking in a business. He said: “I think it is important to have a good relationship with either a fishmonger or a fish supplier. It is important to go and see the fish that you are going to buy, so you can see the freshness and actually talk to the fisherman about what is best at that time of year.” GB1 get most of their fish fresh from Brighton and New Haven Fish Sales (BNFS), only three miles from the hotel. The BNFS pride themselves on their sustainable working practices. Bill Brock, director of the BNFS, said: “Fishing is only anti-environment if you use the wrong equipment in the wrong place.” There are fishing quotas set up by the EU and UK governments to decrease the impact fishing has on the environment and to protect certain fish that are in danger of being over fished.fish 2 The quotas for fishing boats under 10 metres are controlled by the UK government, and Bill says that this can cause problems for the fishermen. “Scientists say it is safe to take x tonnes of fish out of the water, and for the bigger ships we manage it and it works fine," explained Bill. "But when the government does it, two tonnes of the quota went to waste last year. It ruins fishermen’s careers and is detrimental to what we want to achieve.” Fishing sustainably helps to decrease the dangers to the environment associated with fishing. One big way to fish sustainably is to only fish for certain fish at certain times of the year, allowing the population to replenish itself. This is how BNFS operate, as their catering manager Kier Foster explained. He told us about one of the sustainable fish they catch, the cuttlefish. Cuttlefish live for about one to two years, and once they have spawned their eggs both the female and male cuttlefish die. BNFS wait until the cuttlefish has come in shore and spawned their eggs before catching them, just before they die naturally.cuttle fish To teach people about sustainability, The Grand have put on ‘Fish N Trip’ experiences where members of the public stay overnight at the hotel and experience a three course meal at GB1 before heading to the fish market in the morning to see how they operate and find out more about sustainability, the freshness of fish and to get a look at the boats if any are docked. Next it’s back to the hotel where you get a demonstration from Alan and then have a go at cooking the fish and seafood. Alan said: “I think experiences like ‘Fish N Trip’ are important because there needs to be a bit more awareness about fish. People seem to think it either comes as a fish finger or pre-packed in a cardboard box. I suppose our lifestyles now are heading towards a lighter diet, and I think as a healthy option fish is definitely the way forward.” By Samantha Wright

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th June 2015

Sustainable fish, why should we care?