By Martina Jensen, SRA Development Lead
Down in South Hampshire where the world famous spring-fed chalk streams with ‘gin clear’ water, you’ll find some of the UK’s happiest and healthiest trout. To mark the climax of our ‘Source Fish Responsibly’ campaign we took 30 members to the river – the perfect opportunity to learn, enjoy and share ideas like-minded fellow travellers.
The fun (or should that be fin?) filled day began with a guided tour around the farm, where Pete and Simon from Chalk Stream took us through the life cycle of the trout – from arriving at the farm as a wee sprat to 2.5kg maturity some two years later. Along the tour we discovered everything we needed to know about water quality and how the constant fresh water flow of the stream makes for optimal conditions for farming. We also discussed stocking density and how this changes depending on the size of the fish, and that the temperature of the water plays a significant role.
After the tour, it was on to the contentious issue of fish feed. Robert Hughes of Skretting Fish Feeds shared his expertise on feed conversion rates and the compositional qualities of the feed.
With our member audience full of representatives from a wide range of businesses, our panel of industry experts were put through their paces. George Clark from Marine Stewardship Council, Ruth Westcott from Sustain, Mike Berthet Director at Aquaesea and Laky Zervudachi from Direct Seafoods debated certifications down to the bone and dived deep into existing regulations in aquaculture. Incidentally, Chalkstream Foods is approved by GLOBALG.A.P, Freedom Food and Quality Trout UK.
Many were struck by the extraordinary fact that we are the only country which eats more fish out of home than we do domestically – emphasising just how much leverage the restaurant sector has in changing the way we eat and the potential for positive impact on stocks.
Considering the still bountiful supplies of fabulous seafood off our shores how can it be that we export 80% of the seafood we land on these islands and import 80% of the fish we eat. Crazy – eh?!
Step forward Chalk Stream. With responsible producers like them on the doorstep, there is no need to look further afield, let alone abroad. Taking a simple step, swapping trout for salmon can help create a more sustainable domestic supply chain. Chefs and restaurateurs have a great opportunity to drive change in the area, as influencers they can start to change behaviours and perceptions about the fish we eat – and at the end of the day – make that choice the sustainable one!
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