Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Sustainable fish

Kate's post 'Fishing for facts' on got me thinking about sustainable fish. We almost always buy our fish from a stall in the market here in Gabian. It is all caught from the family boat which comes into Valras-plage, less than 40 km from here, and is brought here fresh, sometimes still alive. This seems to be a good way to buy fish. I do still have questions about sustainability though, and it seems hard to find answers to them. You can find lists of fish to eat and fish to avoid at but this site is centred on the UK and its advice applies to fish available in the UK. I haven't been able to find a similar list for Mediterranean fish.

Apparently the Mediterranean represents 1 per cent of the world's sea, but about 9 per cent of marine biodiversity. This makes it vulnerable to exploitation, but also a wonderful source of seafood.

Some facts are available - tuna should be line-caught only, stocks of hake are dropping dramatically. But sardines are sustainable, which is good news for me as it's one of my favourite fish. We don't buy red mullet any more because they look too small to be sustainable.

Mussels and oysters from Bouzigues - again less than 40 km from here - are sustainable, so we can carry on eating those without guilty feelings.

I'm uncertain about mackerel - they seem to be plentiful and quite big … and I like them. What about the cuttlefish I bought today? And I like squid too.

I'll keep trying to find out what is sustainable and what we shouldn't be eating.

Kate's post seems to have set off quite a stream of arguments for and against food choices, especially vegetarianism. Like Kate, I don't want to be a vegetarian. I think everyone has to make their own choices about their diet and the environment. Most of the food I eat comes from within about 100 km of Gabian, in summer, spring and autumn most of the vegetables we eat are organic and grown in our garden, we eat free-range eggs and poultry, mostly local cheeses and fish from local boats. Of course I have my guilty pleasures - I like Italian ground coffee, which must add to the food miles or kilometres of my diet, and the occasional steak. Maybe I'll just have to accept that perfection is unattainable!


Ian said...

A nicely balanced piece Chaiselongue.

I also read Kate's piece. Unlike you, I don't have the luxury of the Meiteranean only 40kms away so most of the fish I eat is brought in from the Atlantic or, increasingly, farmed.

I agree with you about choices in ones diet and also in one's life and the dream of perfection, for me, remains that, an unachievable dream.

Kate said...

Don't give up trying though. Don't just say its all too hard, because it really isn't. I refuse to buy Australian rice because of our water issues. One shop assistant said to me that soon I will HAVE to buy Australian rice because of the world rice shortage. I was amazed at that and told him that I would not be buying Aust. rice under any circumstances and I would stop eating rice in that case. It is no big deal not to eat rice; it is a very big deal to support Australian rice-growers who are using MY water to grow unsuitable crops in the desert so I can't use it on my vegetables. Sometimes the consequences are huge and once you know something you can't un-know it! ....but coffee...I don't have an answer for that yet. Ask Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots, he roasts his own.

chaiselongue said...

No, Kate, I won't give up trying - but I may just accept that some things I do aren't right and do them as little as possible! I think I can weigh some of my environmental faults - eg. liking steak (occasionally) and coffee - against the fact that I don't fly and haven't done so since 1969. But then in Europe it''s easier to take holidays by train/boat! We have to make these choices and balance them against each other even though, as you say, once you know something you can't un-know it.

Kate said...

You're right. We can do our best, that's all. I haven't found a coffee with ethical credentials that I really like yet. I read books of paper from who knows where. I use this computer, a car and will be flying to Europe next year. Nothing is perfect. It is good to explore all the possibilities though and nice to think that maybe, combined,we are making a difference.