Do You Know Your Fish?
For many marine enthusiasts, their love for the ocean comes coupled with a love for seafood, served with a hot dollop of guilt. Addressing this issue that weighs heavy on morality, the Know Your Fish initiative encourages consumers to make informed choices when it comes to eating fish.
The founders, Pooja Rathod, Mayuresh Gangal and Chetana Purushottam, are alumnus of the Post-Graduate Programme in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, WCS-India and National Centre for Biological Sciences.
Speaking to Sanctuary, Pooja Rathod articulates the need for sustainable seafood consumption. “People are familiar with seasonality when it comes to fruits and vegetables. However, only a handful of us think of fish as animals with lives, that compete and cooperate, breed and migrate. Do we think of seasonality when we eat or buy fish?” she questions. “The belief that the only time we are supposed to stay off seafood is during the monsoon, no longer holds true. There is no single breeding season for all species of fish; different fish breed at different times of the year”, says Rathod.
She explains how fishing during breeding seasons removes tonnes of juvenile and pregnant fish, thus making it an unsustainable practice. This puts already declining populations of certain fish species at further risk. “The reduction we observe in catch and fish size of species like groupers, sharks and king fish is a matter of grave concern,” explains Rathod.
Acting on this concern, the trio came up with the idea of creating ocean-friendly menus for restaurants in Goa. To kickstart the project, they contacted Jamshed Madon, who runs a luxury homestay in north Goa. Madon agreed to customise his menu to a more ocean-friendly one, provided that the necessary information was made available to him.
The trio welcomed this opportunity and began working on a sustainable fish consumption calendar. After listing commonly consumed species along the west coast of India, they collated published information about the breeding seasons of these fish species, and of incidental by-catch. Based on this information, they put together a calendar, specifying the time periods to consume or to avoid certain fish species that largely constitute the diet of an average pescatarian.
Armed with this ingenious fish calendar, they began approaching other eateries. So far, four hotels in Mumbai and four in Goa have pledged to provide their customers with the Know Your Fish calendar along with their menus, thus allowing their customers to make informed food choices.
With an aim to make this information accessible to a larger number of people, the Know Your Fish initiative was consolidated. The team has put together a basic website, making the calendar available to a larger audience. At the same time, they are also gearing up to approach hotels and restaurants across the country.
In light of almost 80 per cent of the world’s fisheries having been declared depleted by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the Know Your Fish initiative might seem like a small step. However, as history proves time and again, one small step for man, can always turn into one giant leap for mankind.
Visit www.knowyourfish.org for more information.
Author: Anadya Singh