Many people will have enjoyed a trip to the seaside at some point in their lives, whether on holiday or as part of their daily routine. With research emerging about the value of these excursions on our health and wellbeing, we can only seek to encourage everyone to spend time by the sea, on the sea and in the water regularly. One way people choose to enjoy the Ocean is to go fishing.
A much-loved hobby for many people, fishing is peaceful and relaxing and there’s a chance of catching a meal! The activity of using tools to catch fish from the Ocean has existed throughout human history with evidence of it occurring around 3500BC in Egypt. Over time, the tools have become bigger and able to catch more and more to feed an ever-growing human population. With the introduction of steam power in the 19th century, fishing efforts intensified and today, we have factory fishing vessels capable of catching and processing thousands of tonnes of fish over several days or even weeks at sea.
There are several methods for getting seafood out of the Ocean. Trawlers will drag a large net along the seabed, catching many bottom dwelling animals including plaice, cod and haddock. This type of fishing is effective but can have an impact on the habitats for these animals too. There are also boats that sail further from the shore using purse seine nets to catch tuna. These can be very large and often catch other animals like turtles and sharks. Unwanted catch like this is known as bycatch which in high quantities, isn’t sustainable.
Eating fish has recognised health benefits – it is good for our heart, joints and brain function as well as tasting good! To have a positive impact of health, the NHS recommendation is to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily fish. The question is, how to do this sustainably? With so many different options, it seems hard to be sure we are making the right choice. Luckily, there is an easy way of choosing your next fish dinner. The Marine Stewardship Council assess fish stocks, methods and management to award the blue fish logo to sustainable fisheries. This means that on your trip to the supermarket, fish monger or at a restaurant, you can check that the seafood you are buying has been caught sustainably by looking for this logo.
We encourage everyone to enjoy local, seasonal and sustainable seafood. Ask you fish monger where your food has come from and, where possible, always ask to see the blue fish logo.