Monday, 2 November 2009

I See Trouble Ahead

So is it ethical to follow the lead of celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? Should we choose unusual non fashionable fish that fall under ‘their own’ new favourite label of ‘sustainable’. Or maybe get into line behind Charles Clover and only eat at restaurants that he wants us too. I am confused, and trust me, when it comes to fish that is not usual. Of course the majority of fish HFW champions are not only awful to the taste, but are unavailable to buy anyway. That’s fine, but please don’t try to convince us we need to eat carp et al. Anyhow the point; I have been studying the European Communities (EC) proposed Total Allowable Catch (TAC) alterations for 2010. Although the piece I am writing centres around the popular species I did pick up on the following. The marine stewardship council accredits fisheries that can prove they are sustainable which is a very hard status to achieve. The Eastern English Channel Dover Sole fishery gained this status last year and has since won the plaudits and then recommendations of all the ‘where to source fish’ guides. Why then is there a proposed 31% reduction in the TAC of this species in this area? This to me is not showing a stable fishery? This to me is showing that even more than ever before people are jumping on a bandwagon to gain respect from the concerned public by suggesting sources of ‘sustainable, fish – sources they have no understanding of.

Secondly, everyone’s favourite savour of the ocean the Pollack. Let us open with the shuddering words from the SeaFish website that states

“Although Pollack are not an assessed species the European Union set a precautionary Total Allowable Catches based on previous catches (this can be modified based on evidence provided to the EU by the Member State making the request) for this species in the following ICES areas”

So Pollack has no assessment! This problem has caused certain species to collapse in the past and will continue to do in the near future. So, with no assessment the EC has proposed a 15% decrease in TAC which to me is very concerning. This could be construed as guess work as no member state will suggest cuts in their own fleets catch. Maybe in a few years people will be saying ‘don’t eat Pollack it is an endangered species’. And if this scenario occurs please remember the names of those who bullied us all into eating this tasteless fish for their own publicity.

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