We must fish less, and fish better; cultivate more shellfish and algae
It is becoming increasingly clear that, for the seas to continue to be food reserves, we must change our habits: fish less and better, cultivate algae and more shellfish. This is a cultural leap in which Slow Food must take a leading role by involving fishers and breeders, cooks and consumers. This is the conclusion of a four-day debate among international delegates of the Slow Fish network, which discussed the issue starting from the central theme of the ninth edition of Slow Fish: The Sea: A Common Good.
According to the Scientific Committee of Slow Fish, to cope with the increase in the world’s population while ensuring that the seas are rich with fish, we must concentrate on the lower part of the food chain. This means avoiding the fish at the top, such as tuna and swordfish (which also contain a large amount of heavy metals), in favor of bivalves, crustaceans, plankton and algae, all of which are potentially abundant. Slow Fish 2019, organized by Slow Food and the Liguria Region in Genoa (Italy), brought together more than 100 delegates from over 20 countries who told their stories, and above all shared their good practices. The only way to preserve resources for future generations and save our sea is by strengthening this international network. It is also essential to reduce the fishing of blue fish which is used to produce fish meal for aquaculture: we would be much better off learning how to eat and prepare fish by returning to the species and recipes that our grandparents ate.
International delegates shared their stories and experiences: among them Luis Rodríguez from Spain, president of the Association of Artisanal Fishermen Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, who highlighted the risk that fishers will disappear before fish do. He added that in the past a good fisher was judged by the quantity of fish caught, but now they must balance the right amount of fish for themselves and for the environment. Octavio Perlaza, a fishing technician specialized in good practices at the catch and post-capture level from Bajo Baudo, an isolated area on the Pacific coast of Colombia, said that the experience in Slow Fish reinforced his feeling of belonging to a global community dedicated to small-scale sustainable fishing. Andre Standing, an independent researcher, writer and member of the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA-CAPE) who works between the UK and Kenya, stressed the importance of creating a Blue Commons, whereby the oceans are recognized as a public good, as opposed to the current trend that continues to see our marine resources as source of private profit for investors.
The event allowed delegates to rediscover the importance of sharing their experiences and stressed the sense of community that unites them, regardless of where they come from. It is paramount that institutions and governments understand the value of the fishers’ profession and open up to co-management of marine resources.
Slow Fish 2019 was also the stage for the Italian Slow Food national assembly. More than 200 activists from all over Italy debated the future of Slow Food and further explored the themes of the event. The commitment of Slow Food to the sea and its communities doesn’t end with the event: it continues through the international Slow Fish campaign.
Despite the weather, Slow Fish registered sold out events, including Dinner Dates, Taste Workshops and Cooking Schools, crowded appointments for children and families on how to build a balanced menu. Food tastings from regional Italian kiosks provided an opportunity to taste different flavors of the sea and to learn more about issues such as coast biodiversity, climate change and the stories of young fishers.