Tony Delahunty, Chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations writes about the idea behind the federation’s Twitter campaign, #CatchOfTheDay and why it’s vital we support and celebrate the UK fishing industry.
As an island nation, there is a temptation to take the seas around us for granted and forget that those waters provide a vital source of food, employment and contribution to the national economy. Yet the UK fishing industry lands 624,000 tonnes of fish every year, enough for millions of healthy and wholesome meals, and generates an annual income of £718m.
When we’re doing our weekly food shop, the variety of fresh fish sourced from UK waters available over the counter is just the end result of the efforts of the 12,150 British fishermen working at sea. It is not only evidence of the hard work of the fishermen who caught the fish – but also the producer organisations, suppliers and trade bodies involved in ensuring there is a constant supply of sustainably sourced fish on our counters.
There is a common misperception that it is just the large trawler boats which supply us with fresh fish. The truth is that the UK has a diverse fishing fleet and smaller boats like my own are just as important for the supply of this sustainable food source.
As a fisherman myself, I have seen the industry evolve over the past 40 years with consumers and chefs becoming more adventurous with their choices of fish, although the UK’s top three choices are still unsurprisingly cod, haddock and salmon. Over 50% of us eat seafood at least once a week, but perhaps it’s time we were more adventurous with our choice of fish – with species such as Hake and Plaice sourced from UK waters, available in our supermarkets.
Anyone involved in the fishing industry knows that it can be risky and hazardous. Despite all the improvements in safety and technology, the sea is still an extremely dangerous, unpredictable and often not- too- friendly workplace! You only have to watch the rescue helicopter footage of the UK’s youngest fishing boat skipper, 16 year old Jake Bowman-Davies shepherding his crew into a life-raft as his 50ft crabbing boat, the Cresca, sank at night in high seas off the Llyn Peninsula in February, to appreciate that.
For all these reasons, the NFFO is launching a week long Twitter campaign called #CatchOfTheDay, to champion the hard work and diversity of the UK fishing industry. It is also to open consumers’ eyes to the breadth of species of this healthy food choice that is available.
Starting today and lasting to 20th March, we are urging fish lovers and members of the UK fishing industry to get involved with the campaign by sharing photos on twitter which represent their involvement in the industry or to celebrate the fantastic variety of sustainable fish now available to UK consumers.
We are asking anyone who has an involvement with the fishing industry – producers, suppliers, chefs, trade bodies, or anyone who just loves a tasty fish dish, to get on board and celebrate the diversity of the industry and give it the recognition it deserves.
We think this is a fun way of getting across a serious message not only about the importance of the industry in providing a healthy, sustainable food source to a growing population, but also its inherent commitment to ensuring its future through sustainable methods.
So – get on board! Tweet your photos with the hashtag #CatchOfTheDay from 16th to 20th March, and help celebrate the work of our heroes of the seas!