Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hugh’s Fish Fight

Three words that are dominating my facebook account at the moment, and certainly dominated my television time last week. The issue's are ones that I feel reasonably strongly about and not unusually the more I hear about it the more interested I become. Briefly for anyone who’s missed this it’s a campaign to bring attention to the problems of fishing to quota, (specifically the discard problem where perfectly good and commercially valuable fish is thrown back dead because quotas are filled and it can’t legally be landed, or perfectly good fish is thrown back because we don’t generally eat it so it has no commercial value) and of relying too heavily on 3 key species – cod, tuna, and salmon. I’m hazy about the details of tuna fishing but know plenty about salmon farming and the environmental problems it raises.

Anyway it’s been an interesting if emotive series of programmes, I signed up to the petition and have been unable to avoid more press coverage which brings me to the point where I’ve started to become radicalised... The moment of whole hearted conversion to the cause of Hugh came courtesy of a slightly disparaging Guardian article (no link because for some reason they always seem to break) which asked what a win for the fish fight would look like. Comments were mixed though mostly critical the most constructive pointing out that this campaign isn’t offering many answers to the problems in the fishing industry that it’s highlighting.

For me this misses the point, whatever the answers are winning surely looks like making more of us think about the decisions we make – or even making us take more actual decisions. I’ve just counted – I have eight cookbooks which are specifically devoted to sea food. Eight. I don’t buy eight different types of fish, (I think it’s probably about 6) I don’t cook the ones I do buy in eight different ways, and yet I must have literally thousands of recipes spread across dozens of books (never mind those eight dedicated volumes). The more I think about it the more I feel at fault. I have no excuse not to be more adventurous in what I cook; I don’t have to cater for small children or other picky eaters, I love fish, I feel strongly about sustainable fishing, I enjoy cooking, and I’m always going on about how important it is to promote choice and now I’m going to do something about it. (Probably, I hope...)

Hopefully the other half million plus who have signed up to the petition will all be making the same resolutions – fish sales have gone up (evidence from my own work place – everything but salmon sold out) which is quite exciting. If I really think about the money I’m spending, if we all think about it, who knows what might be achievable? (And now I’ll admit that my imagination is drifting off to a halcyon vision of a reformed Waterstone’s...) Anyway I’ve thought about it, I’ve made a resolution, I’m talking about it – for me that constitutes a minor victory for the fish fight campaign.


  1. I didn't see the Hugh programme but I did watch the Jamie Oliver one. I rarely buy fish (bout once a month) but its not because I dont like it or wont cook it, its because I love cod but feel really bad about buying it.

    This week I actually went out and brought both Coley and Polock (is that spelt right?) so hopefully I can now enjoy my white fish again!

  2. Ooh, exciting, where did you get your fish? I spend all my waking hiurs in the wine section of a waitrose - our fish section is ok but not amazing so next day off I want to hunt out a good fishmonger