Have you ever cooked fish?

The world of Twitter is always awash with fish industry information that “the end of the world is nigh” scenarios or sensational Daily Star type headlines. On further inspection these are usually American news releases or US university research of what would happen if ………. But my attention was drawn to recent release by SeafoodSource.com article about whether UK consumers were engaged with the notion of “sustainability”.

Leendert den Hollander CEO of Young’s Seafood Limited (the result of the consolidation of Young’s Seafood, The Seafood Company and Findus UK) the largest UK fish brand, at a recent conference on the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy conference, stressed, that there was an urgent need to engage with consumers and push the benefits of eating seafood.

The UK population at present eats 1.4 fish meals a week as against the government's recommended 2 times a week. Young’s survey found that 1 in 5 people had never heard of Pollack (Hugh you must try harder), 1 in 10 people thought John Dory was a US presidential candidate and 1 in 10 children thought haddock was a planet.

Now most people receiving this letter have an interest in food and are food savvy and although these results are absurd and amazing a much more worrying finding was that 40% of British people surveyed had never cooked fish. We need to educate people to feel more confident about eating seafood and introduce people to some of the less popular and sustainable species. Cod, salmon, tuna, haddock and prawns account for 80% of the fish consumed in the UK.

The Dartmouth Food Fest draws ever closer, Severn and Wye sweatshirts and aprons are all pressed ready to go. The 2 smoke houses are now built, the last one is equipped with a unique manual ‘Cookie’ designed air vent system. This may mean that we will be a bit sensitive about any photography close to the smoke houses until patenting has been granted. Menus are still under wraps but we hope to have a few novel takeaway options that people haven’t seen before. One thing is for sure, we will not be using cod, salmon, tuna, haddock or prawns.

Now having taken the great step of moving into Gloucestershire Richard has promised to introduce me to the art of cider making. With his know-how, and my taste and sampling experience, we hope we will have something to share with customers when they visit. This will of course provide ample opportunities for people to get involved in apple harvesting, peeling and coring, with adequate liquid refreshment on tap.

I did promise some people that I would give the subject of eels a bit of a rest, but I do want to finish this letter with a big thank you to all those who threw themselves into our “Tanks in Schools” scheme and also helped out with releases. A special thank you to the Environment Agency who helped with the release consents. Unfortunately the Environment Agency with responsibility for the London region was not so helpful. They could not come up with one river, lake, pond or brook in the whole of the London area that would not interfere with data collection they were doing with the Zoological Society of London. I can only say shame on them.

Also I must mention the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Barnes and Slimbridge who deserve a special mention. They are eager to display our tanks and use them as a teaching aid but have been reluctant to agree to help with restocking. Odd that!

More news soon.