Slow Fish Istanbul

25 Oct 2013

While the city outside was celebrating the Bayram festival last week, the grounds of Istanbul’s Bosphorus University were filling with a diverse range of people. An Albanian chef, a Bulgarian Greenpeace activist and a representative from the Turkish Ministry of Fisheries met with a former-illegal fisher turned campaigner and a wise-beyond-his-years Greek teenage harpoon fisher, along with hundreds of others. All were there to tackle the same problem: how to guarantee a future for our oceans, and to the fishers and communities that rely on their sustainability.

Slow Fish Istanbul, which took place over four days from October 17-20, brought together players from all parts of the fishing world to explore the complex issues related to sea resources. Through film projections, presentations and debates, a range of issues were addressed, including aquaculture, dams and canals, and the privatization of the oceans, as well as consumer responsibilities, and the past and future of fisheries.

The culinary and cultural element was never far away. Dishes from different parts of the Balkans were presented to guests, often using traditional and undervalued species, such as the anchovy. Film screenings and a performance by traditional dancers from the Black Sea also took place. An artist who filmed a four-day trek along the path of a planned canal from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea was also in attendance. If carried out, the canal may permanently alter the unique ecosystem of the Bosphorus corridor.

The finishing touch of the event was an award ceremony for the “small fishes” (not to be confused with baby fishes) recipe contest, an event to highlight the fact that we are consuming fish in an unsustainable way: 40% of these healthy and delicious smaller fishes are currently used for animal feed, with human consumption concentrated on a few species higher up the chain.

“We have to understand that we are all in this together: not only men and women, but also the fish, the bees, the grass, the birds. We must therefore work very hard to sustain the working order of our planet for the sake of all living creatures, including ourselves. Humankind, as the most aggressive consumer of the shared needs, must also be the most devoted guardian of our planet,” concluded Defne Koryurek, organizer of the Slow Fish Istanbul event and leader of the Slow Food Fikir Sahibi Damaklar Convivium.

“Fish are sensitive to changes in their environment: they react, change and adapt,” added young Greek fisher Georgios Zoidis. “We must learn from them”.

Find out more about Slow Fish, our campaign for good, clean and fair fish at

If you want to learn more about the topic, here are some of the great films projected during the event:

The Mussels in Love (2012), directed by Willemiek Kluijfhout
Polaris (2012), directed by Chico Pereira.
The Secrets of The Delta (2007), directed by Despina Pantazi.
The Slow Food Story (2013), directed by Stefano Sardo.
The Salmon Confidential (2013), directed by Twyla Roscovich.
Fishes of Bosphorus (2012), directed by Bahriye Kabadayı Dal and Burak Dal.
Sushi: The Global Catch (2012), directed by Mark Hall.
The Damocracy, directed by Todd Southgate
Learning to Fish (2012), directed by Teemu Auersalo.
Thalassa -men and the sea (2012), directed and produced by Gianluca Agati
The Secrets of The Delta (2007), directed by Despina Pantazi.
The End of The Line (2011), directed by Rupert Murray

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