Kicking The Habit

Did you know that it is forbidden to catch and sell some kinds of fish and mollusks? Or that there is a minimum size for many of them? Fishermen are familiar with the regulations, those in the restaurant trade know somewhat less (though this should not be the case) and consumers know hardly anything at all. But respect for the rules is essential, the future of our seas is at stake.
Fish stocks are becoming increasingly depleted and under constant, irrational pressure from fishing and global warming. But in order to respect the laws we have to know what they are, how important they are and to what extent we should choose to behave better than required.
It is in this spirit that Slow Food Italy, together with the WWF and the Italian organizations LegaPesca, AGCI Pesca and ICEA launched the campaign ‘Let’s eat them right’ (see the Slow Food website for more information), at the Slow Fish event held in Genoa from May 4 to May 7.
It is a campaign to raise people’s awareness and provide information, encouraging us to exercise a minimum degree of responsibility, which applies to everyone—fishermen, wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs and consumers—without exception, and stresses that everyone should respect the law. And we also suggest that we need to make a small extra effort, deciding to go without those types of fish which might not be actually banned, but whose existence is endangered by excessive overfishing.
To give a concrete example, Slow Food says that going easy on red tuna is a deeply gastronomic act, worthy of a real gourmet. Someone foregoes a pleasure today so they can still enjoy it tomorrow, so others can enjoy it too: it doesn’t mean completely cutting red tuna off the gourmet’s menu, but you can certainly go without it for a certain time.
Going without obviously doesn’t mean starving yourself either, but means seeking out other types of fish. It involves making new discoveries, finding new dishes and new recipes. The ‘Let’s eat them right’ campaign is also a real gastronomic initiative providing pleasure and stimulation.
First printed in La Stampa on May 6, 2006

Roberto Burdese is president of Slow Food Italia
Adapted by Ronnie Richards

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