Fish-friendly employees at Lakes Aquarium, near Newby Bridge, are highlighting that whilst there are many more fish in the sea, this adage nowadays refers to species, rather than numbers.
Lakes Aquarium is throwing its weight behind the campaign to eat only sustainable fish – these being fish from a healthy stock and those caught by environmentally-friendly methods.
Declining stocks of every chippy’s favourite fish, the Atlantic Cod, have dwindled to disastrous levels and cod is still over-fished in the North and Irish seas and Eastern Baltic.
Visitors to Lakes Aquarium can see cod and other threatened species within the marine tank in the Morecambe Bay area, but for how long we shall see them on our dinner plates is less certain.
The plight affecting cod is true of many more species, including plaice and sole, but still British diners stick to what they know, rather than experimenting with different fish for seafood recipes. Ten species of fish account for 75 per cent of all seafood sold in the UK.
Organisations such as Greenpeace, the Marine Conservation Society and the Marine Stewardship Council urge shoppers to learn to identify fish, look at the origins of the fish they buy and quiz their fishmonger about the methods used to catch the fish.
These organisations advise on fish that can be eaten sustainably and those that should be left alone to reproduce and replenish the ocean’s stocks.
Despite their efforts, shoppers still cannot easily access the right information about fish. They are also uncertain about what to do with some species of fish and so purchase old favourites instead.
Two easy ways to assist the cause and eat fish sustainably are to not buy fish during each individual species’ spawning season and to branch out with fish choices within the diet.
Making this happen is a challenge. Whilst diners are getting used to eating seasonally with vegetable choices, they do not think about buying fish in the right season.
To assist, Lakes Aquarium has a seasonality chart on display at its information point in the Seashore Discovery Zone.
August and September are months in which we should all be refusing to buy cod, if we wish to maintain this species for the future, says the Aquarium.
At this time of year, we should also be refusing to eat fresh lemon sole, northern and cold-water prawns, witch and Torbay sole, cape hake and mackerel.
Most people appreciate that oysters should only be eaten in a month that carries an r in its name, for quality purposes, but few understand that buying fish during their spawning season is wholly detrimental to the future of many species.
To this end, Lakes Aquarium is also gearing up to help suggest new fish choices that can be incorporated into tasty recipes and menu choices.
This is an on-going campaign and the attraction will be educating visitors about the need to eat only sustainable fish throughout the summer, with this activity sitting alongside Rockpool Discovery talks, taking place daily during the summer holidays.
It will have handouts and information relating to the MCS’s ‘Good Fish Guide’ and will be organising a series of initiatives to help with MCS objectives with regard to sustainability.
Marketing manager Cathy Burrows says: “Fish are very much undervalued and whilst we care about the crisis affecting animals on the verge of extinction, we tend not to think about how mankind is adversely affecting the fish population of the world.
“Quite simply, if we do not start to think more carefully about the way in which we eat fish, we will find that there will soon be no more fish to eat.”