The four most popular fish – Cod, Haddock, Salmon and Tuna. As a nation we eat them everyday in some form or other. Friday’s are very popular on social media for “fish and chip Fridays” so there’s that, but also we enjoy those fish at home; Salmon being the go-to fish for most people.
Why? Why these fish? And just how many fish species are around our UK waters?
A lot is the answer.
Among the usual suspects, the UK has perfectly sustained stocks of Hake, Coley, Megrim, Turbot, Halibut, Brill, Bream and on and on. We have amazing shellfish stocks in the UK including Langoustines, Prawns, Scallops, Mussels and more. We literally have a smorgasbord of fish and seafood surrounding our nation and yet we fall back to those same four fish again and again.
How does that happen? Are we not curious creatures, looking to try new flavours and textures in our food? We are, but not when it comes to fish and part of the reason lies with the supply and distribution in the industry.
The supermarkets for example, (we make no secret we’re not big fans of their profit over provenance attitude), are the gatekeepers of the nation’s larders. They present their choices of goods for sale and we must buy either one thing or the other. Take Tesco – if their chilled section is 61% Cod or Cod products and 29% Salmon then how do we have a choice?
Most of us have no access to a traditional fishmonger and must rely on the supermarkets to provide fish, meat and vegetables.
If any one of us went into Tesco, or any of the big supermarkets, and we attempted to buy Hake, we’d likely be sorely disappointed. Hake has been MSC certified as completely sustainable since July 2018, the perfect fish to be eaten and marketed, but nothing has materialised thus far! It seems to have swum away.
There will always be a demand for the 4 popular species of fish, but there’s also demand for other tastes, textures and the demand to facilitate sustainability by choosing fish other than Cod, Haddock, Salmon and Tuna. People are inherently good and want to do their part for conservation and sustainability, but can’t easily do so thanks to Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison and Asda.
What happens when we all want the same fish?
A common situation, the price of Salmon has been growing steadily in the last 12 months. This is not due to some incident at a fishery or less Salmon being produced, rather it’s simply the rise in popularity of Salmon in China. As a nation China have developed a taste for Salmon. This has placed a crushing pressure on Salmon stocks, and following the supply and demand model, Salmon is now more expensive.
The less supply of an item, the higher the demand, the higher the price.
As a nation we could shell out significantly less for our fish if we were properly utilising other species. Therefore, we need to start placing sustainable and quality orientated species on our menus and use this fish when we cook at home.
It’s the responsibility of the chef – place sustainable species on your menus.
It’s the responsibility of the supermarkets – offer more choice and an even spread of species (not 61% Cod)
It’s the responsibility of all of us – we need to stand up and say no! We want different species of fish. We want cheaper fish not in such high demand or the choice to switch if we choose!
We want to be allowed to do our part.