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Expert Eye: John Lavery, Fish City, Belfast

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Fish City Belfast

Imparting knowledge about seafood sustainability to children is a paramount responsibility, says John as he looks for ways to nurture tomorrow’s ocean stewards

Here at Fish City, we are committed to educating future generations on issues of seafood sustainability. That is why we started the Kids Club, the UK’s first seafood sustainability workshop for schoolchildren, nine years ago in 2014. 

The Kids Club is a free educational initiative we host for local Primary 7 schoolchildren to learn about the importance of seafood sustainability to the fishing industry and the health of our oceans. A key objective is to build youth awareness and understanding of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) ‘blue fish’ eco-label and how choosing MSC certified products helps support the long-term wellbeing of fishing communities, our oceans and our planet.

 The Kids Club begins at St George’s Friday Fish Market, where the children interact with local fishmongers and experience first-hand the different species of that day’s catch. For many, it is their first-time seeing different species of fish, molluscs and crustaceans up close. The rather scary looking monkfish is always a curiosity, and the kids revel in the opportunity to see live lobsters landed from the fishing villages of the Antrim Coast. 

Fish City Belfast

For the kids, the fish market showcases Northern Ireland’s seafood industry in action in real time, and, the experience of speaking with fishermen, hearing how demanding it is to catch fish, and seeing so many different species of seafood helps establish a deeper connection to the processes of food production and the food itself. 

We particularly enjoy taking the kids to the fish market as it helps the kids connects the dots on where fish comes from.

 The children are then welcomed to the restaurant for a seafood sustainability workshop hosted by our manager and team who, through a series of engaging activities, introduce and reinforce the connection of living organisms in the food web. 

The children learn about the MSC, the ‘blue fish’ eco-label that denotes seafood from a well-managed fishery, and how the choice to #choosethebluefish in the supermarket, at a restaurant or chippy rewards sustainable fisheries and supports the future of our ocean ecosystems. 

The kids get suited in aprons and gloves to investigate several whole fish and are challenged to determine what species each fish is using informative fact sheets. And the tastiest part of the day – enjoying a complimentary lunch of MSC certified Atlantic cod and chips! For such a fun and rewarding field trip for classes, the Kids Club is profoundly educational, and for many kids, it has proved to be an illuminating and meaningful learning experience.

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