Making the most of the day’s catch

Each year, there are plenty of conferences to attend. What sells attendance, more than anything, is the excitement for what each conference brings whether you are looking for new solutions, to learn new skills, or to make new contacts.

The Future of Fish, on Thursday 23 May, gave me the opportunity to visit Mission Kitchen, a shared-use commercial kitchen in London, which played host to a full-day symposium, as part of a Tomorrow’s Table event series, that explores the trends, challenges and issues affecting the fish industry.

As concerns over the sustainability of seafood consumption continue to mount, industry leaders and experts came together and debated the critical factors triggering a ‘Blue Revolution’ and helped me and assembled guests delve into some innovative solutions and developments that can help reimagine, rebuild and, in some instances, turn the fortunes of the sector towards positivity.

The day also featured workshops, cooking demos and food-tasting experiences – including a Seaplant Snack Bar and Future Fish & Chips lunch – culminating in a networking banquet showcasing the best of the ocean bounty and plant-based innovations.

Headlining the symposium was Jenny Jefferies, award-winning author, food writer, radio producer/presenter, and ambassador for Love British Food, who set the stage for the day’s discussions.

What is striking from the day is the plight of the industry and whether there can be a sustainable way for seafood to feed the planet? It’s a daunting task when you consider that 93% of global fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited, despite only accounting for 2% of the calories humans consume. According to a recent study by the Marine Conservation Society, 43% of seafood consumers prioritise sustainability, yet 24% find the process too complicated, highlighting the need for accessible solutions.

The industry is trying nonetheless.

Notable sessions such as Fish Remade, showcased high-tech alternative fish products, featuring producers, FoodSquared and Pacifico Biolabs. Selling Ocean Foods, highlighted the evolving landscape of quality seafood and ocean-based products, featuring Sea Sisters and Koralo Foods. Additionally, Future Fishing Talent shone a spotlight on the contributions of women in the industry, such as the UKs 1st Master Female Fishmonger, Elaine Lorys and 1st Female Recipient Fisherman of the Year Award, Ashley Mullenger.

The event was very insightful and one to savour. The panel discussions were informative thanks to an interesting array of presenters whose knowledge, passion, and determination to see the industry succeed shone through.

The day certainly sparked a candid, yet still optimistic, conversation about the sector’s fortunes, and what can be done to help get seafood front of mind for consumers. The event saw a number of speakers sharing insights from their respective fields and thrashing out the key issues of the day. Boasting impressive and high profile careers, these guests had valuable perspectives to share with the room.

They stressed the need for a strong relationship between government and businesses, the importance of embracing change — and the ways in which those within it can grow the seafood economy. Again, they also fielded questions from the guests leading them to touch upon various other themes as well.

This really inspiring event showed just how invested the seafood business community and partners are in ensuring that it fulfils its potential.

It’s no secret that there are challenges however it was pleasing to see everyone addressing difficult issues head on. Indeed, the discussions were characterised by candour, transparency and pragmatism.

The Future of Fish was far from a downbeat affair. On the contrary, I was struck by just how positive the atmosphere was.

If nothing else, I’ve emerged from the experience with a greater appreciation for just how resilient and determined the seafood community is. The speakers each painted an optimistic vision of the future, attendees generated fantastic ideas and there was a real appetite for collaboration across the board.

I look forward to seeing how all of this will turn into tangible action over the months ahead.

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