Different scientific studies show that over 90% of commercial fish populations in the Mediterranean are over-exploited or endangered. Although there are over 500 edible fish species in our seas, fishing pressure is concentrated on a small proportion of species.
Many pieces of fishing equipment used are not selective. They act directly and negatively on other species, with accidental capture or habitat destruction, or indirectly, with environmental pollution. On the other hand, consumers generally do not even know which fish species are under pressure, nor the names of the more than ten types of edible species.
In order to reduce this pressure, it is important to provide and promote other species that are less-exploited, but just as edible, to consumers. We also believe that it is essential to share the traditional fishing arts that are so deeply rooted in our land, which are more selective and have a lesser impact on the environment and other species, such as marine mammals.
Bearing all this in mind, the aim is to conduct a conservation project that involves the main players: consumers and the fishing industry. This is how #PeixdeCustòdia was born.
In the first phase, #PeixdeCustòdia was circulated throughout the entire “Canyons of the Maresme” area in Catalonia. In this process (and with the collaboration of Accionatura, part of the fishing industry, fishmongers and restaurants), the product was offered to the public. Along with it, a set of tools was provided to consumers to facilitate and promote responsible seafood consumption (receipts, workshops, talks, printed material).
The second phase of the project was focused on the city of Barcelona. As a result of the campaign, 10 fish markets from different districts in the city joined the initiative. The following year, this task continued. It was complemented by working directly with the consumers to obtain information on their fish consumption habits and to promote a more responsible consumption. The results obtained over the course of 2018 on consumer habits helped us to learn more about fishing practices.
With the work carried out to date, responsible fish consumption was shared with consumers. They were provided with the product and access to responsible seafood was made easier.
Even so, assessment of the previous phases shows that influencing consumption habits is a slow process, which shows that the campaign’s effects will be visible long-term.
The project’s objectives are:
- To develop a #PeixdeCustòdia quality label to promote responsible seafood consumption. This label grants market access to seafood that has been fished with artisan, low-impact techniques. The #PeixdeCustòdia label guarantees that the fishing arts are compatible with the viability of other species (such as cetaceans), and also decreases pressure on commercial species.
- To create a network of establishments that offer #PeixdeCustòdia, thus promoting and bringing the product closer to consumers to influence their consumption habits.
- To raise consumer awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing and responsible seafood consumption.
As of today, a total of 10 fish markets have joined the #PeixdeCustòdia initiative. It is offered in 8 districts in Barcelona. 5 dissemination workshops were also held. Although fishermen agree that the awareness campaign has slightly increased interest and the consumption of local fish species and lesser-exploited populations, further dissemination is required.
In order to have a clearer concept of Barcelona’s fish consumption habits, we conducted a local survey with clients in 2018: Where do you buy fish? What fish species do you mainly eat? Or, how interested are you in eating local fish? These were a few of the questions answered by Barcelona’s citizens. Our team is analyzing all the data collected to better observe habits and promote the project during future campaigns.
We are currently working to achieve greater project dissemination, conducting workshops and sharing different recipes, analyzing future opportunities for collaboration and to place the product in local supermarkets and more local fish markets.
The initiative falls under the framework of a Marine Stewardship project that SUBMON has been carrying out with “Canyons of the Maresme” since 2009. The initial phase was conducted with the support of the General Directorate of Environmental Policies of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia and the City Hall of Barcelona.