Slow Fish event growing quickly

Published on
May 29, 2011

The four-day Slow Fish festival in Genoa, Italy, wrapped up on Monday, and Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food, deemed it “a huge success.” Since its inception 10 years ago, this biennial event dedicated to sustainable fishing and responsible consumption has grown in both importance and scope. 

Thousands of people flocked to the city to participate in the 270-plus events and activities ranging from talks, debates and workshops to cooking demonstrations, tastings, a street market and fish auction.Local restaurants joined in the festivities, offering special menus using seafood less well-known by consumers, and promoting the catch of artisanal fishers. 

A busy street food area included local producers offering traditional fish specialities, while the market stalls manned by fishermen and food producers from around the world allowed consumers to learn first-hand the issues facing them on a daily basis. 

Highly popular was the fish auction, selling seafood landed fresh by the boats, and the slow sushi island, where diners could learn how to fillet fish and discover new and sustainable species suitable for sushi.Meet the fisherman/fish farmer promoted a great deal of discussion, while the personal shopperservice offered by students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences was helpful in guiding visitors around the market stalls, recommending which species to choose and how to cook them. 

This year’s theme was Small-scale fishers: A threatened species, and the international workshops included participants from around the globe looking at the culture, opportunities, hardships and skills of artisanal fishing in the past, and at its modern equivalent and how this fits into the global system. Set up by the Slow Food movement, Slow Fish is an ongoing international campaign to educate consumers about seafood choices, and encourage better interaction between them and small scale fishermen. Slow Fish the event, which is supported by the Liguria Regional Authority, helps to promote this cause and is internationally recognized as a major platform for discussion and education. 

Such is its reputation that European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki agreed to open the event and spoke about her push for an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management under the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy that governs fishing in European waters. She also emphasized her belief that the new management system should adapt to each region’s heritage, tradition and know-how. 

Addressing the audience as informed and concerned citizens,she said, “We hear that fish resources are depleted. That fish contains dangerous pollutants. That it is sometimes sold under false labels. We hear that big amounts of fish are thrown overboard because they were caught by mistake. So what should we do? Well, we can probably change the way we eat. But we definitely have to change the way we fish. 

“Fish is universally acclaimed as a healthy component of our diet. For me its the only healthy and acceptable form of fast food.So, don’t stop eating fish; keep consuming it, and consuming lots of it. As long as it comes from sustainable sources,” she exclaimed. 

Damanaki also presented a new report, “Deterring illegal activities in the fisheries sector,” and spoke about the EU’s zero tolerance for illegal fishing and the new techniques based on genetics, genomics and forensic science that are being used to give consumers confidence that seafood products are exactly what they say they are, and that eco-labels cannot be falsified or circumvented. 

She reminded the audience that they are part of a single society with a shared responsibility and a moral obligation to make things right.“Italian Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini said that civil society can create opportunities to reduce our environmental impact. The key lies in this awareness. Im here to tell you that I care too.Lets make this reform an important step towards healthy, sustainable and ... slow fish for all,” said Damanaki. 

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