Have you seen that new Netlix documentary yet - it's called Seaspiracy? I have. And because fish is our life, I'd like to write a few lines about it. Most of all I'm personally very happy that, thanks to Seaspiracy, people are starting to talk about topics such as sustainable fishing, fishing methods, styles of fishery management and many others which relate to one of the key global problems of our time: sustainable food production.
When my colleagues and I founded Boxxi these were precisely the topics we had in mind - sustainability and conservation is encoded in Boxxi's DNA. Despite the fact that, setting the sale of fish aside, a part of our concept is the attempt to get across something more than a good foundational knowledge about fish and fishing, our informational bandwidth is not in the same ball park as that of Netflix😊. And so I actually welcome their effort, though I strongly disagree with many points, as a way to open the discussion with a broader public.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, the problem is more complicated, has many more layers, and throws up many more questions, than Seaspiracy presents. The blanket condemnation of all animal-based food is not a solution from my point of view and neither is it the case that all fishing is a blight on the ocean.
Let's take, for instance, our fish from Iceland - fishing and the processing of fish forms a significant proportion of the GNP of the island. Icelanders themselves saw their fish populations decline to a critical threshold in the 1970s and very quickly then recognised that it is not possible to carry on in the same fashion. And so they implemented a quota system which is extremely strictly monitored and adhered to. For every type of fish a limit is set every year which cannot be exceeded. It is only in this way that a given population may naturally recover without problems. Icelanders fortunately realised in time, that it is for them much better to preserve their natural abundance for later generations than to make more profit in the short term. And that is what we at Boxxi call sustainable fishing.
In any case, we place an emphasis on sustainability during the fishing itself, where we strive to the fullest possible extent to work with fishermen who use hooks and lines rather than those employing trawls. And then too there is a huge difference even between types of trawls. For us at Boxxi, sustainability doesn't end with a blue MSC sticker and an advertising campaign costing millions. For us sustainability means that we know the precise source of all of our fish, we are in regular contact with our various partners, and we regularly take a bearing to see whether one of them may not have strayed from the path we have agreed to keep to.
We take the same approach to fish farms. As with fishing, the issue of fisheries is not black and white. There are sustainable fish farms which both monitor and effectively reduce their impact on the surrounding ecosystem, and which create conditions in which their farmed fish can grow and develop healthily. Perhaps there are many for whom this will seem to be an exaggeration but even fish intensively experience stress and the environment within which they live and all of these factors are subsequently perceptible in the fish's flesh.
It cannot be doubted that the oceans are confronted with significant challenges but these are best tackled with open debate and pressure in the appropriate place. And one of the best ways to fight for sustainable aquaculture and fishing is through consumer buying behaviour. And so for the whole Boxxi team, I say: eat fish, but eat quality fish with verified provenance, fish you know to have been caught or bred in a responsible way. Ask, take an interest, place businesses under pressure. Demand quality, demand transparency, demand responsibility.
From us, our fishermen, fishmongers, and our partners, I can assure you that we take this issue very seriously. Sustainable fishing exists; it is not a figment. But it will take a little work - ours, and yours - if this approach is to spread to the majority of available fish on the market. Come and see us and we will be very happy to go over all the details. Fish are for us and our partners our livelihood. And believe me, we don't any one of us want to do anything that put it at risk.
Marek Jirovec, Founder