Sustainable Seafood Statement
There are many definitions when it comes to sustainable seafood. For us as fishmongers, Chefs, seafood lovers and ocean stewards sustainability is about meeting the seafood needs of the people now and ensuring that our children, grandchildren and their Children and their grandchildren can enjoy our beautiful ocean and all it’s delicious seafood in the future.
Sustainability is an ongoing process with three core elements that are intrinsically linked and crucial to harmonise: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Now that doesn’t sound like it relates to us as a fishmonger at first glance, but here at SSI we support small scale fishers by getting our seafood exclusively from them. This helps them grow their business and we contribute to economic growth. By making local seafood affordable and accessible for everyone we do our part for social inclusion. And with our responsible near plastic free packaging and low-carbon footprint operation we demonstrate just 2 simple ways in which we actively protect our marine environment. Obviously, we do much more in regards to keeping our oceans safe and healthy.
Of course the seafood sector impacts the marine environment, but with three fundamental principles on sustainable fishing we keep this impact at a minimal level. At SSI we make sure that our fishing fleet only:
Fishes from stocks with healthy populations
Uses fishing gear that has minimal impact on the seabed and reduces by-catch
Fishes in areas with effective, responsive and responsible management
Trawling has been a traditional Irish fishing method for centuries (deep-sea trawling started in the 1830s). It is an invasive fishing methods as it damages the seafloor and it results in by-catch. But there are huge differences in trawling methods as well as the spatial and temporal extent of trawling. Supertrawlers for example, generally have massive trawls, go very deep and trawl for a long period of time – this causes a lot of damage to the seafloor and results in high by-catch numbers leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.
We work with local fishers on small boats that fish on a small scale. The boats have very strict rules on how long, where and how deep they can fish and are generally not designed for heavy duty trawling. BIM frequently carry out comparative studies on different trawling methods always aimed to reduce both by-catch and damage to the seafloor while effectively catching target species. We encourage our fishers to stay up to date with this development and work with those fishers who care about sustainability.
Local and Seasonal
As we are a sustainable seafood business you can trust that our seafood is either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans, as well as the livelihoods of our hard-working fishing-community. All our seafood is locally sourced and highly seasonal which means it’s caught when it tastes best and avoided during protection periods. So if we don’t have it, it’s not in season in our local waters.
Importance of Variety
Another incredibly important part of sustainable seafood is the variety of species that we eat. For each acre on land, Ireland has 10 acres under water which makes us an island nation with the richest seas in Europe. But we don’t appreciate our waters enough and the variety they offer. Instead we eat the top predators of the marine food-web: salmon, cod and tuna the tigers and lions of the sea. At SSI we put every effort into offering alternative seafood from lower down the food-web that might be off the beaten track sometimes, but comes from a healthy population in our local waters and can be fished without much impact or damage to the marine ecosystem beyond natural repair. You can buy our fish with a free conscience and we don’t sell any species that are endangered!
By encouraging you to eat local seafood from lower down the food-web and from a wider variety we’re also able to actively contribute to the UN sustainable development goal “Life below Water” (SDG14).
Even with their best efforts to avoid it, our fishers have by-catch – it’s inevitable! By-catch is generally seafood that is caught unintentionally while catching target species and target sizes of fish. It contributes to fishery decline globally and is a serious issue ever since fisheries began. It will possibly never be resolved entirely. It’s as difficult as being tasked to stop carbon emissions completely. However, ongoing joined efforts in local, national, regional and global legislation strive to minimise this problem by implementing regulations, e.g. forcing fishing fleets to land all their catch (target and by-catch) and not discard unwanted seafood as sea. At SSI we offer this by-catch where and when appropriate and reasonable, because we believe that it’s better off on your plate than unappreciated in the bin. We’re also great advocates of using the entire fish and waste as little as possible. That’s why we take cod heads (usually a waste product) and turn them into a delicious cod head terrine (see our recipe here).
Traceability of our Seafood
The fleet we work with is comprised of small scale fishing boats from Ireland’s coast. They have very strict controls on what they can catch, where from and how long they can spend at sea. Our commitment to providing safe, responsinly sourced seafood goes far beyond the sea, to doing better for our planet and its people. See our modern slavery policy here.
Fish farms have been in the bad press for long and for good reason. However, we don’t expect wild catel or sheep and we cannot expect the Ocean to just keep feeding our growing population. We need balance and Fish farming in our opnion must be supported so it can be given the oipertunity to improve and get better much as has our land farming practices and husbandry have over over the years.
Fish farm regulations and management in Europe and the UK have improved this industry quite a bit and made it more sustainable. For example, many farmed species nowadays are being reared in local environments with minimal impact, their feed consists of the food they naturally eat (where possible) and chemicals and drugs are avoided. In Ireland we’re very lucky that we have lots of naturally occurring sheltered bays due to our much indented coastline. This offers ideal habitats for aquacultures and makes closed systems to manage wastes possible. The farming of shellfiush is also actually of great benefit to our coadstline and seas.
If our seafood doesn’t come from Irish sources, we have reliable sources in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Iceland who all take sustainability as seriously as we do.
We pride ourselves with selling local seafood as much as we can. 90% of the seafood we offer is locally caught or from national mariculture (marine aquaculture).
The remaining 10% are bought in from from our neighbours in europe that we have great personal relatioships with.
We are the official food industry partner of Food Smart Dublin. It’s an innovative IRC (Irish Research Council) funded project based at the Centre for Environmental Humanities, Trinity College.
Our academic colleagues investigate how Dublin’s society can be encouraged to eat more sustainable seafood by tapping into local resources and historical Irish seafood recipes.
Have a look at their website for more details and test your cooking skills on old Irish seafood recipes.
Niall our CEO had role in the project to reimagine these old recipes and to transform them into appetising dishes that suit the modern pallet – check it out here. We also play a central role in the project’s work of assessing consumer responses to the recipes that are launched monthly on the FSD website.
Pulling our weight
A recent Nature publication by Duarte et al. (2020) reckons that the marine environment can be rebuild by 2050 if we all pull our weight. SSI is proudly pulling its weight by sourcing its seafood locally, in a seasonal and sustainable manner and by engaging in research to ensure our precious ocean can provide food for generations to com