Is it about time fish-eaters were more adventurous? Sainsbury’s think so.

Posted by Willie — 13 June 2011 at 2:47pm - Comments

In Africa, safari-bound tourists are usually keen to bag ‘The Big five' - species which once people wanted to shoot with bullets, but are now ones we want to shoot with cameras. However, we're so keen to ‘bag’ these species, that tourists often overlook the other amazing wildlife all around them.

In your supermarket there is also a fishy ‘big 5’ – the five species (cod, haddock, tuna, salmon & prawns) that we UK consumers eat more of than anything else. And we do this to our oceans’ detriment. In the race to keep supermarket shelves, freezers and cans full of the things we recognise and want, we are overlooking other species - many of which are still being caught and killed as ‘discards’ anyway. We are also ignoring any notion of the seasonaility of the fish we eat.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
in his Bafta-winning Fish Fight programmes, tried to encourage us to be a bit more adventurous – and choose some different fish to spread the load. At the same time Jamie Oliver was cooking up simple recipes using less-eaten fish species to try and encourage viewers to be that little bit more adventurous.
Now one of the UK’s biggest retailers, Sainsburys, has stepped up to the plate (aherm) to try and get the UK to be a bit more adventurous when it comes to eating fish. Their ‘Switch the Fish’ campaign, is aimed at getting people to try an alternative to one of the ‘big 5’. Why not have coley instead of cod? Trout instead of salmon? Or pouting instead of, well just sitting there pouting…
They have produced an informative report, which looks at UK consumer attitudes to fish, as well as the various problems around the way we source fish. It is backed by the UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon – who gives the report a foreword, saying:

“If more people start to choose a wider variety of fish this will help in our battle to end the terrible waste of millions of edible fish being thrown back into the sea dead because of an outdated quota system.”

And by teaming up with Jamie Oliver, providing recipes, and making different species easier to get hold of, Sainsbury’s is leading the charge to spread the burden of our fish-eating. That can only be a good thing – but it’s just one part of the range of solutions we need.
We need to overhaul fisheries laws, we need to create protected areas that are not fished, and we need to make sure the level of fishing is truly sustainable. But as consumers we can also help reduce waste, and make a fairer deal for all concerned by using other species as food, rather than them being chucked back dead, unloved and uneaten. Cutting down waste is a no-brainer, and they do say fish is brain food…

It’s worth giving some kudos to the progressive retailers on this – Sainsbury’s, M&S and Waitrose have been trying for a few years to promote ‘different’ species, on a seasonal basis. However hopefully now with the increase in public awareness so ably helped by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Selfridges' Project Ocean will mean that we consumers really do start to catch on.
So if you are going to eat fish, perhaps now you can do so with a slightly clearer conscience if you just try something different?

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About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, I work with Greenpeace on all things ocean-related

Twitter: @williemackenzie

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