Plenty more fish...

Posted on 27/01/16 by Paul Gildroy

Paul Gildroy tells us why sustainability and events such as Deck to Dinner are so important

Last August the NFFO teamed up with Masterchef host Gregg Wallace and seven chefs (including myself) from around the country to highlight and promote lesser used sustainable fish.

For me, this was a fantastic opportunity to meet fishermen and other chefs with a passion for looking after our resources and highlighting the lesser used fish – a crucial step in easing pressure on the fish that we Brits love to eat. A 'Magnificent Seven', comprised of Hake, Plaice, Coley, Megrim, Mackerel, Crab and Gurnard (five of which regularly appear on our menu at The Magpie and on the fresh fish counter at The Magpies Whitby Catch), was chosen as the best of the bunch when it comes to underused fish. Of these, I chose Coley.

Being of the Cod family it amazed me to hear that around 80 per cent of Coley is exported. It's a fantastic fish that we should be eating more of, not to mention that it is often two-thirds the price of Cod. It was great news to recently hear that Cod has been taken off the Endangered Fish list, but this does not mean that we should stop looking at the lesser known or eaten fish that we have in abundance around our shores.

If we can collectively push these 'Magnificent Seven' for instance, over time think of the benefits this will have for our children and then our children's children. Our fishermen have adapted exemplarily to very strict diktats from our own government let alone from Brussels. However, we should still be looking at other species as the more popular and in demand these fish become, the less pressure there is on the likes of Cod and Haddock. Cod and Haddock are always going to be the firm favourites, but if we can convert even 10 per cent of people to other species this would be a positive step towards sustaining our popular species further.

There will always be a debate on sustainability. Who's to say once other species of fish are being targeted then people won't again claim 'overfishing'. However, at the moment we are already catching these fish and they are in abundance. We as a nation need to be trying these other species of fish and celebrating the fact that we could be both helping our fish stocks remain sustainable and helping our fishermen get a better price at the markets. This would help to sustain not only our fish stocks but our fishing industry too.

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