With fishing, just as with agriculture, Slow Food strongly believes that every individual can contribute in his or her own small way to changing the mechanisms of a globalised food system based on the intensive exploitation of resources.
Slow Food, with its strong local and international experience, is convinced that we can only bring about change by returning to the origins of food, putting curiosity and pleasure at the service of responsible choices.
We are rediscovering different, forgotten flavours, which the globalised market tends to obliterate, and new or updated recipes. We are seeking to recover the traditional wisdom of fishing communities, who often have not moved far from ancient fishing practices, the diets of past generations, and the known and unknown resources guarded by rivers, lakes and seas. All these things are part of our story and our identity.
In 2011, fully fished stocks accounted for 61.3%.
28.8% were overfished.
The ten most productive features accounted for about 24% of world marine capture fisheries production in 2011. Most of their stocks are fully fished and so have no potential for increase in production, while some of their stocks are overfished.
The fraction of assessed stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels has declined from 90% in 1974 to 71.2% in 2011.
And yet, in 2002 the UK imported $2328 million worth of fish and fishery products. In 2012 this figure had almost doubled, rising to $4244 million.
The Key Points
- The fresher, the better. Choose fish from local fishermen whenever you can.
- Many neglected, underused fish are delicious. Rediscover them and help ease the pressure on overfished species, particularly the big predators with a long life cycle. They play a fundamental role in the marine ecosystem and accumulate more metals and toxic residues in their flesh.
- Explore the many recipes for sustainable fish. Ask older generations what fish they used to eat and how were prepared them, back before the era of fish fingers, crab sticks and plastic-wrapped individually portioned prepared foods.
- Fish species from healthy stocks. Imagine going into a butcher’s and asking for a panda steak. With many species of fish, such as bluefin tuna, it’s the same thing.
- Fish caught outside the reproductive season and adult-sized, to allow the stocks to regenerate themselves. Ideally, choose species with a short life cycle.
- Fish caught or farmed using sustainable techniques.
- Local fish, because it is easier to find out where they came from and because less transport means less pollution. Source fish from local fishermen as often as possible and ask them any questions you want about the fish and how it was caught.
- Fish sold at the right price: accessible to the consumer, but also providing fair payment to the fish workers.
- Fish caught by artisanal and honest fishermen. We must help them keep the sector sustainable and resist pressure from industrial and pirate fishing. Rough estimates indicate that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing takes 11-26 million tonnes of fish each year, for an estimated value of $10 – 23 billion.
- Fish that has not been subjected to cruel practices, such as cutting off a shark’s fin then throwing the animal back in the water.
- As things currently stand, it is very difficult for consumers to assess the ethical aspect of a product such as fish.
Let’s stop feeding the vicious cycle of global marketing: highly regarded species – high price – artificially high perception of the fish’s quality – increase in price – intensified fishing pressure.
Everyone, whether consumer, restaurateur or fishmonger, can make a difference.
The Marine Conservation Society have produced FishOnline, an online and detailed buyer’s guide to sustainable seafood.
They have also published a Pocket Good Fish Guide, which you can download here.
Slow Fish Recipes
Celeriac and Apple Soup with Manx Kipper and Curry Cream
Penclawdd Cockle Chowder
Slow Cooked Grimsby Smoked Haddock
See FishOnline for sustainable Haddock options.
Raw Summer Vegetable Salad with Morecambe Bay Shrimps
Bloater Mousse with ‘Rae-vita’
Marinated Fal Oyster Ceviche