This week I took a trip with my talented photographer and friend Anne Carter. We went to visit a sustainable fishery in Hastings, which holds accreditation from the Marine Steward Council. You may have started to notice the stamp which is now thankfully appearing more regularly on menus of any merit and shops who are striving towards observing the critical issue of over fishing our seas. This crisis is global and the statistics are staggering. A recent film, End of the Line has brought much needed attention to this issue which has been screaming for at least 10 years. The CEO of Pret a Manager has just taken tuna off the menu of all Pret
branches since seeing the film.
Stalwarts of the movement such as Caroline Bennett of Moshi Moshi have been campaigning for years on this issue. She and marine biologist Malcolm McGarvern have set up a remarkable scheme called Pisces which matches restaurants with day fishing boats. It works with the restaurant's nominated fishing boat emailing the restaurant from on board to alert them of their day's catch. The fish will be out of the water and packed onto ice and couriered to the restaurant overnight. Within 24 hours of the fish being caught the fish can be in front of the lucky urban customer.
Peter Weeden of Paternoster Chop House in London's St. Paul's buys his fish this way. Taking what the sea has offered and works his menu around that. Of course nature doesn't deliver measured and portion controlled fish, so creative and resourseful planning sees the full use of everything. Making fish stock and soups are essential in order to recoup the higher price paid for the fish.
This system of fishing guarantees the fishermen a good and fair price for their catch and maintains and observes sustainable fishing practice which doesn't wreck the marine environment.
I would implore anyone who doesn't know about the MSC logo to start to observe this symbol from this day forth as a mark of gurarantee of the sustainable background to your purchase. Having said that I would not rule out the many small and sustianable fishing stalls I know and frequent in London. To name and highly recommend a few; Simon Long of Blakeney, the fish stall at Marylebone Farmers Market in London. Check out his smoked mackerel, smoked eel, pickled herrings, freshly landed catch. He's a fifth generation fisherman from North Norfolk and I can testify to his fabulous produce. Likewise the prodigiously passionate Darren of Shell Seekers of Borough Market who dives for scallops off the coast of Dorset.
These people are all heros and honourable custodians of our precious marine life. They work against a multi billion pound machine of mass production which has little and no regard for the devastating scars and damage inflicted on the marine eco system in their economic greed.
My most sincere respect to organisations like Seaweb, Better Catch, Sustain, Marine Stewardship Council, Marine Conservation Society, Caroline Bennett, Slow Food, Pisces. And to the heros who forage for our fish and shellfish going out in all weathers and conditions and unable to make a living when the conditions are so unfavourable. It is essential that we are more connected to where our food comes from so that we are prepared to pay more for this food and not that the earth pays for this demand with trashed seabeds and thousands of tonnes of by-catch needlessly thrown back to the sea.
Let's all get on board with sustainably caught seafood.