Is there a right time to savour the Bombay duck, the hilsa or the pomfret? Most fish lovers would say ‘all the time’ but there is a big sustainability issue here.
At a time when the fishing industry is facing multiple challenges, a collective called InSeasonFish is slowly nudging people to eat the right fish in the right season.
“We have to follow the science and tradition and dispel the myths,” said Divya Karnad, one of the founders of the collective. “We believe that all fish breed in monsoon but that is not true,” she said, adding that their aim is to study marine ecology in detail and promote good practices.
Chennai-based Divya intends to make seafood eaters aware of the diversity that our oceans have to offer, in order to avoid overfishing of any particular species. “Eating diverse seafood not only helps the ocean, it is beneficial to human health too,” she said. Divya is now working to generate awareness among the fishing community in the West and East coast of India, as well as the hotel and restaurant industry, chefs and customers.
Divya addresses the issue with a three-pronged approach — use of scientific evidence to guide conservation actions, make people understand scientific issues and setting up conservation tools like InSeason Fish. This website lists fish commonly eatern along the east and west coast of India and tells the consumer what fish is okay to consume during a given month.
During her research in the twin districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in the Konkan coast of Maharashtra, she found that fishermen who would not fish in a particular place during a particular season and closed down the entire fisheries for certain festivals. “These are basically sustainability measures,” she said.
“What we are doing is that we are working with the fishing community, hotels, consumers to ensure that nothing goes waste and the species does not get stressed,” she said. The team works with Sea Salt in Chennai and the Bombay Canteen in Mumbai. “The chef is taken to meet the fishermen to exchange notes,” she said.