A fishy tale

 Tammy Facey went shopping for fish… and became embroiled in the Common Fisheries Policy.

FishI am in favour of supporting local businesses, from butchers, to green grocers. Local businesses are generally better value than your local supermarket, and frequently buying from them helps the economy. So, when I decided to do my Mothers weekly shop I was somewhat put out to find there are no fishmongers in Wednesbury. The closest fishmongers are in the Bullring market in Birmingham. Great. Heading off to the largest supermarket in Wednesbury – Morrison’s – I felt hopeful.

I was in the fish section of Morrison’s eyeing up the packaged prawns that looked, most un-fresh. So I thought I’d ask at the fish counter if they had any fresh water prawns. Morrison’s Fishmonger told me I was dreaming if I thought I could buy fresh prawns in the Black Country let alone in Wednesbury. I was surprised to find that while Morrison’s do not stock fresh water prawns, they have a great selection of more exotic fish including stingray wings, dab, dover sole, mussels, sea bass and all other familiar fishy favourites.

While I eyed the ray wings the Fishmonger emerged from behind the counter and told me that when Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal took part in Channel 4’s ‘Fish Fight’ early last year, Morrison’s took notice. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) set a quota for fishermen, which is meant to protect other species, but in a mixed fishery, fishermen cannot control which fish they catch and thus fish are caught, which are out of quota – because of demand – which in turn have to be thrown back into the sea, dead. The CFP is currently being rewritten, but there is a lot of politics around discards and how to stop such waste. To Morrison’s it is important to eat out of your comfort zone because our much loved salmon, cod and tuna are farmed to their length and the rope is wearing thin. A hopeful figure has emerged however; 807, 584 people are currently supporting the fish fight, including Morrison’s.

Morrison’s helpful Fishmonger, who has worked in Morrison’s more fishy part of the UK – Banff, Aberdeenshire – was more than knowledgeable about our fishy friends. He  told me that if you’re feeling adventurous but like familiar flavours you should go for dab. Dab is the middle cut of Plaice; it is tasty but not the meatiest of fish. Well, I like to think I’m a good judge of fish character, the stingray wings look pretty meaty and, for the adventurous, Morrison’s also stock squid.

Even if you don’t want to eat a variety of fish, you can support the Fish Fight at the following websites and find delicious recipes that will change your mind about grilled squid.