Barrie Deas talks about the importance of eating a variety of great British seafood.
Recent figures from Seafish have shown that 70% of all seafood sold in Britain is one of the 'big five' species - Cod, Haddock, Salmon, Tuna or Prawns, while hundreds of others are consistently overlooked. This summer we at the NFFO embarked on one of our most ambitious consumer facing campaigns yet, which saw seven leading British chefs challenged with creating recipes for some of the most sustainable, yet underused, seafood caught in British waters. The Deck to Dinner species, Coley, Megrim, Gurnard, Hake, Mackerel, Plaice and Crab, were chosen to showcase the enormous breadth and variety of fish available around our shores that people often miss out on.
Hosted by Masterchef's Gregg Wallace and taking place in the heart of London at the iconic Billingsgate fish market, the event was a fantastic celebration of seafood and the important contribution made by our fishermen. Comprising live cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions and interviews with chefs and fishermen, Deck to Dinner was a huge success which brought together two very different groups, both of whom contribute to putting seafood on our plates and share the same goal of ensuring seafood is here to stay.
Recent scientific findings show an upsurge in the number of healthy fish stocks. The number now at Maximum Sustainable Yield stands at 36, compared to 27 last year and only two in 2003. Deck to Dinner therefore is a timely reminder that eating fish is far more sustainable than many have been led to believe by a succession of aggressive, and often misinformed, NGO campaigns.
The aims of the campaign were twofold – to support fishermen whose catch can be somewhat overlooked or undervalued and to open up a new world of culinary exploration for consumers. The fish chosen are not only extremely sustainable, but offer a unique taste which many would have otherwise not experienced. Furthermore, as these fish are not as desirable as their more well-known counterparts, they are often at the more affordable end of the market. The combination of this trio for consumers means that their taste buds, wallets and conscience will benefit from eating these species. The campaign has so far seen a large amount of media interest, generating 63 pieces of coverage, including 36 radio interviews, reaching an estimated 4.2 million people.
Sustainable fishing benefits everyone and is what we are all striving for. It is heartening to see that the tireless of efforts of our fishermen to improve their fishing techniques has led to many stocks of fish getting healthier. Campaigns like Deck to Dinner help to educate the public about which fish are sustainable and introduce some lesser known species to them, as well as hopefully, their dining tables! Of course, we're still keen to keep people eating the more popular species such as haddock and cod, which is experiencing its own sustainability resurgence, but a little variety never hurt anyone!
The Deck to Dinner campaign supports our overall key messages of fish's role in providing a healthy source of food security for a growing population and championing the work fishermen themselves are doing to work in a more sustainable way.