Frank Fleming probably took his first steps on a boat. His love for the sea dates back to when he was a child and his father would take him and his big brother out fishing on the Atlantic Ocean in front of Schull, in County Cork on Ireland’s southern coast. Four years ago Frank founded “Responsible Irish Fish,” an initiative designed to promote fishing that respected the marine environment and to support the local economy. “Responsible Irish Fish” is also a certification guaranteeing traceability (all fish comes from Irish fishing boats that only catch local species) and respect for 14 shared sustainability criteria that regulate onboard practices.
Frank will take part to the Fish Tales – Granaries of Memory – Fisherman Frank and Responsible Irish Fish – Friday May 27, 8 pm
I read that you have been a fisherman for around 25 years. Why did you choose this job?
When we were very young my father always took us sea angling so we had a great love of the marine environment from a young age. I have an older brother who finished school before me and became an engineer. When I finished school we decided to go into commercial fishing and bought a boat together.
How do you think being a fisherman has changed over the years?
Fishing has become increasingly difficult for a number of reasons. I have always been involved with smaller vessels and we have to deal with more and more regulation coming from both Europe our national authorities. Secondly, we find that we are now competing with masses of fishery products from all over the world in the European Market which has resulted in the prices for our own products being eroded.
When, why and how was the Responsible Irish Fish initiative started?
The initial ideas that led to the formation of Responsible Irish Fish begun four years ago. We felt we needed to get involved in this iniative for three main reasons:
– Taking a responsible approach helps us keep access to fisheries
– We see the global trend and need for us to get involved in certification projects
– We wish to differentiate our products in the marketplace through provenance and through our responsible actions
Why did you feel the need to promote and support local and sustainable fishing?
All fishermen need to be concerned about sustainability, otherwise we have no future. Fishermen contribute greatly to their local communities, this contribution needs to be recognized. Very often by buying local produce we can buy the best quality possible so this approach works for both fishermen and consumers
Have you had positive feedback from the community?
Yes, we have excellent feedback from consumers
Is it a successful initiative?
Yes, even though we have been at this for four years we are only out in the market a relatively short time. Reaction to this project is excellent and the future looks good
Do you think that following sustainable fishing practices can guarantee a better income for fishermen and protect marine resources at the same time?
Of course, I believe that following responsible and sustainable fishing practices is a great thing for fishermen, as it gives them an opportunity to secure their future and should give them better market prices. If fishermen are rewarded for taking positive action then, of course this has a positive effect on our marine resources
Edited by Michela Marchi