Open Seas: Fish Local

Fishing laws

Open Seas’ new blog series aims to help us all to choose local sustainable seafood and to support our local inshore fishers at this difficult time.

The global spread of COVID-19 has triggered widespread economic chaos. Inshore fisheries appear to be at the front of it. 

The order to shut restaurants and the closing of European borders have thrown Scottish fisheries into serious turmoil. Within days many small scale inshore boats were tied up in harbour.  The spring has already been a brutal one with near persistent storms, and the collapse of export markets has added huge pressure. A few days later, many shellfish processors and vendors started closing up shop too. 

Meanwhile, as has become an all too familiar sight on social media and in the news, communities began to panic buy food from mainstream supermarkets. Our precarious food system has suddenly come under massive strain and, whilst it seems like this is just a short term problem, it is momentarily struggling to keep up with demand.

The fact that many fishermen cannot find a market for their seafood whilst simultaneously communities cannot access adequate food supplies showcases an issue that has been known in the fishing industry for a long time – we export most of what we catch and we import most of what we eat. 

But it does not have to be that way. In this time of crisis, and subject to Government guidance, some fishermen around our coasts are turning to social media and using delivery services to help keep themselves afloat and provide locally caught seafood to their communities. Businesses that have sought to shorten the supply chain are now keeping seafood on dinner plates at home. Seafood Scotland is working to promote the Scottish seafood sector, and Seafish has recently launched its Fish Is The Dish and ‘Sea For Yourself’ campaign to highlight the seafood that we have on our own doorstep.

Fishing and eating local has always been something we have supported. So here is our contribution to help people do that. 

Over the coming months, we are going to run through some of Scotland’s seafood offering, illustrate where they are caught, where they are landed and attempt to help you figure out what exactly is local sustainable seafood.

Things are going to change quickly here, but we will try to keep things updated as best we can. We will use the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide ratings to inform sustainability – in the past we have not always agreed with what they conclude, but it’s a good yardstick. We will use 2018 fisheries data because that’s about as recent as we can access just now. 

Read more and view the landing maps at Open Seas – Fish Local

Saithe catch and landing map – Open Seas