Britain's 'unadventurous' fish eaters told to take the plunge and try gurnard

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Dozens of edible fish live in UK waters, but the unadventurous British tend to eat just three – salmon, tuna and cod – most of which come from abroad. A campaign beginning next week with the backing of the Government aims to persuade people to consider trying a new piscene experience. For every meal of salmon, cod and tuna, people should eat one containing abundant species such as gurnard and dab, viewers of a celebrity chef-fronted Channel 4 season will be advised.

Supermarkets are preparing for a rush of demand for the new species following the airing of the first show in the channel's Fish Fight series on Tuesday. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, credited with significantly increasing demand for higher-welfare chicken three years ago, will take the lead in the campaign, with three-one hour programmes highlighting the waste in fishing practices, and the many unsung fruits de mer, whose adoption could take pressure off more popular stocks.

Jamie Oliver will front 10 shows of 10 minutes each, giving tips on cooking one of the lesser-known species; Heston Blumenthal will explore what dishes can be made from the few sea creatures that may escape overfishing, such as sea cucumber and jellyfish, and Gordon Ramsay – once ticked off for serving bluefin tuna at two of his restaurants – will investigate the catching of sharks to make the Chinese delicacy shark-fin soup.

Organisations such as the Marine Stewardship Council and Marine Conservation Society have given their blessing to the campaign. Support, too, has come from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which wants to reform the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

As The Independent highlighted in November, fishermen in the North Sea throw up to half their catch back because they have already reached their quota under the CFP, or because their existing catch is too small or low quality. During filming, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall travelled to Brussels to rail against the CFP and set up a barbecue outside the Houses of Parliament to showcase one of the largely uneaten British species, sprats.

In all, Britons spend £2.8bn a year on fish, but £1.2bn of that goes only on cod, salmon and tuna which account for 42 per cent of the fish eaten in the UK. Supplies of some of these fish are problematic. Cod has been heavily overfished in the North Sea, and most of the UK supply now comes from around Iceland and the Barents Sea. Some tuna stocks are also under threat (thought not the plentiful skipjack contained in most tins), and three kilos of wild fish are required to produce one kilo of farmed salmon.

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "If you're someone who cooks these fish and rarely any others, then you need to change." He told The Radio Times: "For every meal you have of cod, tuna, or farmed salmon, you owe it to yourself to eat another using a different species of fish. There's no shortage to choose from. Look for gurnard, black bream, mackerel, flounder and dab." Next week, Defra will announce a research project to investigate why the British are so stuck in their ways in which species of fish they buy and eat. Supermarkets are already altering their practices. Sainsbury's announced yesterday that all its tuna would be caught using the pole and line method by the end of this month, eliminating bycatch of dolphins, turtles and other creatures.

Waitrose said it would stock Cornish sprats and Welsh flounder as economical local alternatives to many better-known varieties of oily and white fish.

What we eat...

1. Tuna (72m tonnes)

Of total fish consumption: 19.2 per cent. Value: £337m

Problems: Yellow-fin, bigeye and bluefin are overfished and dolphins and turtles caught in nets

2. Salmon (47m tonnes)

Of total fish consumption: 12.4 per cent. Value: £632m

Small wild fish such as anchovies fatten farmed salmon. Three kilos produce one kilo of farmed salmon

3. Cod (42m tonnes)

Of total fish consumption: 11.1 per cent. Value: £318m

Problems: Although recovering, North Sea stocks are less than 5 per cent of historic levels. Most of our cod now comes from the Barents Sea and Iceland

4. Prawns (33m tonnes)

Of total fish consumption: 8.9 per cent. Value: £365m

... and what we should eat

Gurnard

A wedge-like fish with a bulbous head, the gurnard wins no beauty contests but is probably the tastiest under-exploited fish in the sea. Fry with mushrooms and thyme



Sprats

Tiny, cheap fish, best barbecued and served with a mustard dip



Mussels

Rope-grown mussels are highly sustainable and delicious when cooked in white wine and garlic



Mackerel, sardines and pollock

Currently the sixth, seventh and eighth most popular fish by volume in the UK, they are relatively plentiful and, in the case of mackerel and sardine, rich in fish oils.

Sources: The Independent/Seafish/Marine Stewardship Council/Channel 4 Fish Fight

Suggested Topics
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power