Unless you've been in Narnia for the past week, you couldn't have failed to notice that it's been Seafood Week, the annual celebration of seafood across the UK. It's a great opportunity to remind the public, and ourselves, about all the fantastic things seafood has to offer, or to simply discover that dressing up as a lobster is actually quite good fun.
Apart from the obligatory fish puns trending on social media, and tempting promotions in retail and food service, Seafood Week is also a good opportunity to remember the serious side of the business and how the fish and shellfish we consume reaches our plates in the first place.
The focus on supply chains and from NGOs and media in the last decade has been firmly on the fish; boxes had to be ticked to prove it was sustainable, without so much as a thought for the person that caught it. Times are finally changing for the better and like most global supply chains, seafood buyers want assurances that best practice is being followed, that quality is maintained through good on-board handling and the fishermen are well trained, safe and respected.
As a result, the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS), a voluntary vessel-based programme certifying high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on board fishing vessels, was launched to UK vessels last year. In the run up to Seafood Week, the RFS reached some significant milestones with the Shetland vessel Alison Kay, owned by skipper James Anderson, becoming the 100th vessel to be certified, whilst at the other end of the country, Plymouth-based Interfish became the first full fleet (all ten of their vessels) to achieve certification.
In parallel with this, Seafish launched a public procurement exercise last week to find a new not-for-profit entity to manage, operate and deliver the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) as part of its commitment to grow the scheme internationally as demand grows to have all seafood entering the UK supply chain certified.
#fishpunday may have stopped trending, but it's still business as usual for the industry, where every week is Seafood Week, just with a little less glitter and no lobster suits.