A fishy business

A fishy business
Slow Food UK

Slow Food UK

Standard Supplier 30th May 2017

A fishy business

Despite being an island nation, the majority of the British public eat – save fish fingers and canned fish – the majority of the fish they consume in restaurants. That gives chefs and the hospitality trade a real responsibility on ensuring that the fish they buy is sustainable and that the products sustain our coastal communities.

It is a truism, that the majority of fish on restaurant menus are from a handful of varieties - farmed salmon, seabass (often from Chile) and prawns. The latter is largely drawn from south east Asia, where prawn farming is devastating the local ecology, leading to the destruction of mangroves, and the land being contaminated with salt, from farming on land in ponds.

The stalwart of salmon, whilst produced nearer to home in Scotland is often no better environmentally, with sea lice attacking the fish due to the intensive farming, meaning large amounts of pesticides are used, as well as the lice causing havoc in the wild populations.

The solution is to use wild fish, preferably from local day boats, or if your restaurant is further inland, to buy from a fishmonger who knows where the catch has come from. At a minimum look for fish which is MSC certified for sustainable stocks.

But even in landlocked parts of the country, we have river fish – let’s think about trout, grayling and bream. Instead of flabby frozen prawns, think English shrimps, sea fish change with the summer warming of the seas, but mullet to mackerel all add excitement to a plate.

With over 90% of the global fish stocks over fished or at complete capacity, we need to rethink our menus and get our customers to explore our less known but delicious varieties – if we don’t, then we will find that the supply will dwindle ever more, along with the jobs and way of life of our fishing villages.

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