These days every fishmonger must have a policy on sustainability. This is not a simple subject.
A hundred years of overfishing – intensified over the last 40 years by technology and globalisation – has reduced the stocks of many species of fish to critically low levels.
Today, most of the fish mankind eats is farmed. This takes some of the pressure off wild stocks, yet fish farming sometimes seems no less of a threat than overfishing: Scottish lochs full of farming waste, mangroves cleared for prawn farming, farmed species of every kind escaping to mix genes with wild stocks. The good news, as fish farming has become the dominant source of seafood they farmers are getting cleaner and smarter.
Fish is a complex global industry. Our fish might pass through six or more companies before it reaches us. We might routinely buy the same item from three suppliers each with its own supply chain. We are a small business and with a very wide range. It is frankly impossible for us to put our hands up and say we know we are 100% sustainable. We don’t believe any company retailing a wide range of fish could justify such a claim. It is not very comfortable to be honest with you about the challenges presented by sustainability.
And yet, there are some positives. Overfishing began to be addressed 60 years ago when Iceland declared a 200-mile limit, expelled our trawlers and restricted its own. Fishing control got a big boost when Canada spectacularly wiped out its Newfoundland cod fishery in 1992. Norway, the EU, Canada and the USA read the runes. In the nick of time, and by a two steps forward one step backward process, politicians and fishermen do seem to be getting to grips with overfishing. Even China – since 2000, the fastest expanding big plunderer of fish stocks – has now officially acknowledged that the game is up.
Only the poorest third world countries have failed to grasp the blinding truth that continued overfishing can only spell disaster. There is a long way to go, but the direction is forwards.
Firstly, let’s round off 2017! It was a great year for us culminating in a smashing Christmas. We sent out a record number of lobsters, smoked salmon and crabs. If you had a Christmas order from us, we hope it made your festive period special!
We have a few new faces around the office, perhaps you have even spoken to some of them on the phone? We were delighted to welcome Liam, Liz, Gracjan and Damian to the team. We also brought on a number of new and exciting products such as 70% Irish battered scampi, Japanese cut yellowtail kingfish and hot smoked potted trout to name a few.
We were pleased to have extended Fish Palace by breaking through into the neighbouring building. We added another Frozen cold room to store many more exciting fishy delights.
Last year we had to search long and hard to find a few highly demanded fish. The wild salmon season in Scotland and the North of England was near non-existent. We had almost written it off when we caught word of some prime wild Norwegian fish that had been squirrelled away in France. After a quick trip over the channel to check they were the real deal we had an order in. Shortly after Gracjan was put to work cutting and prepping the fish for your Christmas orders. The second great challenge for us was Kingklip. Towards the end of 2016 our supply of kingklip was becoming restricted, no one seemed to be importing it into the UK. Due to high demand, we got our detective hats on and went in search of the much loved deep sea pink fish. A few breadcrumbs drew us to New Zealand where they fish for MASSIVE kingklip off the South West coast. Our next problem was getting it over here… luckily a nice trader from Billingsgate fish market allowed us a guest spot on his frozen container being shipped from New Zealand.
So…what’s happening this year?
New and exciting species of fish and seafood
Yellowtail Kingfish: Farmed in the warm Southern waters of Australia these kingfish are real specimens. We are now selling whole Japanese cut fillets which is a new style for us. You will get the collar and the lower fin still attached to the yellowtail fillet. In Japanese cuisine, they hold these areas of the kingfish in high regard.
Blue abalone (Paua – the maori name): These stunning electric blue abalones are raised in the north of New Zealand from the pristine clear waters of Bream Bay. The farm recently acquired Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. The farm is land based with an intelligent sea water recirculation system.
New Zealand Snapper: A favourite of Jeremy’s. Don’t let the name fool you, the NZ snapper is more closely related to a sea bream rather than an Asian or American red snapper. Their flesh is white and meaty when cooked and goes great with lime, garlic and chilli.
Let’s get saucy: We are very excited to be offering a trio of Cheeky Boy sauces. Kaye – The Founder of Cheeky Boy dropped in to see us and did a sauce tasting. We were blown away. He makes the sauces using only natural ingredients and all the sauces are spiced up with fresh ginger and a selection of other awesome ingredients. We recommend buying the trio for £7.70 to see which one is your favourite.
History of The Fish Society
2018 is The Fish Society’s 25th birthday. Alistair set the company up as ‘Serious About Fish’ in 1993. We now have employees who were born after 1993! We will be putting together a little booklet showcasing the history of the company. In addition to this booklet, we are hoping to host a fishy celebratory lunch, serving the best seafood the world has to offer.
This is our most exciting project to be launched this year. We have been working very hard to scrutinise our current website and work out what our customers would like to see on a new and updated site. We are hoping to have the site live before Easter. One of the areas we are focussing on is the origin and specification of our fish. The most asked questions are; where is the fish from? Is it wild or farmed? Is it cooked? Etc. Each fillet, steak and fish is going to have an information key that will help you build a picture of where each fish came from and how you should treat it. We are very excited to get the site launched and hope you will give us some feedback when we do so.
These are sustainably farmed halibut from the beautiful Hebridean island of Gigha. We have been waiting many years to see farmed halibut grow to this size. These fish in the picture and video below are about 8kg each. Previously we have only ever seen smaller farmed fish which yield smaller steaks. These big fish are a good size for thick steaks and other prime cuts. It pleases us to see the Gigha halibut farm doing well and producing great fish that can offer a credible alternative to the popular Norwegian wild stocks. The Gigha farm is a closed water farm, meaning no waste reaches the ocean. New methods of farming such as this are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Producing high quality farmed fish like this is helping shape the market, allowing consumers to lean more confidently on farmed fish.
Recently we received a shipment of uni that was our best yet. I suppose you could say that we have caught ‘UNI fever’ at Fish Palace. As we have been talking alot about uni in the past few days, I decided to do a quick blog to let you know some of the things we found out.
Firstly, we should answer the question ‘what is uni?’. Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin. The prize is found inside the spiny shell, a yellow/orange sack which is the urchin’s gonads (reproductive organ). Most chefs and keen enthusiasts serve and eat uni raw, a few more adventurous folk cook it using obscure and adventurous methods.
Until recently, uni was mainly appreciated by the Japanese and was primarily found in Japanese restaurants in East Asian countries and Western cities. From what we gather our customers buy uni to lay out as a center piece in their sashimi and sushi feasts. On special occasions they opt for uni, keta, gindara and maguro to really impress. Whilst our customers seem to know a lot about uni we are still catching up a bit.
We’ve had quite a mixed variety of uni over the years. Uni can range in colour and form depending on quality and origin. There are around 200 species of sea urchin but only some are used on a commercial level for human consumption. The main regions of the world producing uni are Hokkaido – Japan, California – USA, Maine – USA, Chile. These are not the only places in the world your uni could come from, they are just the top 4.
As you will have gathered; we are super impressed with our current supply shipped in from Canada. We called in a favour from one of our suppliers who is an importer from that region and asked to take a small percentage of their devoted uni shipment. A small percentage to them is a vast quantity to us! Luckily the quality is premium so we are more than happy to be over stocked in sashimi grade uni. The uni is packed in neat little trays that has 2 sacs to a compartment making it perfectly convenient to take them out and construct your sashimi stacks.
So from our end the outlook is pretty positive for the this years’ supply of high grade uni. No more of that ‘eggy’ and ‘soupy’ grade 2 uni, we are rolling with the grade 1 ‘creme de la creme’ from here on out.