ONE FISH : OUR BIG VICTORY
Terroir Hospitality and Chefs for Oceans brought a select group of media, fishers, government, academics and chefs to St. John’s to meet industry experts and examine the history & current realities of an Atlantic-based community built on fishing. The discussions showcased best practices in ocean protection; shared lessons from 1992's Cod Moratorium; and stimulated a dialogue which resulted in the overturning of key government legislation.
Until 29 September 2015, chefs in Newfoundland and Labrador were prevented, by law, from buying fish and seafood directly from the fishers whose ships were docked literally 20 feet from their restaurants. Talks and round-table meetings were initiated by Terroir’s One Fish mission in Newfoundland and Labrador in which Terroir and Chefs for Oceans brought together local and international chefs, politicians, fishing industry representatives, seafood certification boards and media to discuss sustainable seafood concerns.
The conversation centred around Newfoundland and Labrador’s prohibitive direct-sales legislation. As a direct result of the discussions, legislative changes were announced that gave the St Johns province’s chefs direct access to their local Atlantic seafood stock via wharf-to-restaurant sales.
This victory meant restaurants could finally offer diners native species in their freshest forms - taking their share of the harvest that happened right outside their doors each morning which had previously been earmarked for international markets. The new legislation also had positive implications for the environment as a reduction is fish waste from by-catches soon followed.
#terroir2015 and #terroirnl uses
key piece of legislation overturned thanks to the One Fish campaign
per species per week - new buying quotas
international chefs cooking local produce at celebration dinner
jobs lost in 1992's Cod Moratorium
of round table discussions
ONE FISH, TWO FISH, GOOD FISH, TRUE FISH
Frida Ronge, Jamie Malone, Magnus Ek, Ned Bell, Jeremy Charles, Celeste Mah and Sarah Villamere all collaborated on a seven-course tasting menu, featuring regional sustainable seafood such as sea urchin, diver scallops, snow crab, periwinkle and scallop roe to celebrate the One Fish conversations.
“I used three types of oysters: Black Pearl, deep fried with an emulsion, horseradish, dill and lemon; Treys, served raw with pickled shallots, ponzu and cucumber; and Sensemone poached in mirin, sake and soy sauce. I chose to use oysters because they're a sustainable ingredient all over the world... and I just love oysters!”
“My dish was roasted Sustainable Blue Farm trout from a land-based farm in Nova Scotia. I served it with parsnips, celeriac, partridge berry and a vanilla beurre noir. I decided to serve land-raised farm fish as a way to advocate for the protection of some wild species. Sustainable Blue is a great farm doing it the right way.”
“I chose the cod because it’s a fish that is so strongly connected with Newfoundland. I wanted to use wild ingredients but at the time of year we were there not so much had started to grow, so I used spruce which is something you can pick all year round and which I use a lot of in my kitchen. I chose to use scallop roe, because it was a leftover that nobody else was planning to use it.”
“My dish included: raw scallops, cattails, charred ramp leaves, and whey. The raw scallops came from a live tank behind the restaurant and the quality was incredible. They remained live until about an hour before service. They were incredibly rich and sweet and I thought they paired well with a sour sauce made of whey and a little pork stock.”
CONVERSATIONS IN ST. JOHN'S
Canada was founded on the Atlantic cod fishery over five centuries ago. But in Newfoundland and Labrador the industry came to an abrupt end in July 1992 after over-fishing nearly drove cod to extinction, and a moratorium was imposed indefinitely.
In one single day 30,000 people lost their jobs. This was a devastating blow for the local economy with profound social and economic repercussions. By diversifying their catch and adopting ocean-centered practices however, the remaining local fishers reemerged in better shape. Having experienced the crisis of fisheries a collapse firsthand, Newfoundlanders are well positioned to educate the rest of the world about the importance of respecting our oceans, lakes and rivers and making responsible choices.
Throughout the Terroir Newfoundland tour we met with key experts and knowledge bases to develop our understanding of the impact of the Cod Moratorium. These included:
- Dr Jonathan Fisher a research scientist from Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute brought firsthand testimony from his work collecting ecosystem information in chilly northern waters. He warned that changing ocean conditions are dramatically affecting the dynamics and distributions of marine species populations.
- The Fisheries and Marine Institute where we learned from several key staff members about responsible aquaculture and aquaponics, as well as their potential for sustainably feeding our exploding global population. We discovered scientific initiatives in the testing phase, such as using fish farm waste for fertilizer and shellfish industry waste for health supplements. The highlight was viewing an $8.5-million flume tank filled with 1.7 million litres of water—the world’s largest—used to do research for some of the worlds most significant marine institutes and corporations. It can be manipulated to recreate different ocean conditions for testing new technologies and experimental design.
- Petty Harbour is a unique fishing community, 15 km from St John’s. There, local fishers have historically played an unusually active role in managing their resources and insisting on traditional methods, such as hand lines and cod traps. In 1961, they banned gillnets and longlines to ensure that more people in the community could profit from fishing and fewer cod perished in ghost nets—lost and damaged nets on the ocean floor that continue catching fish indefinitely. There we met:
- Kimberly Orren, whose program Fishing for Success is designed to connect Petty Harbour’s children with their fishing heritage through hands-on experiences;
- Bernard Martin, co-author of Ancient Rights: The Protected Fishing Area of Petty-Harbour - Maddox Cove, who showed us around a fishing stage, where cod were traditionally cleaned and split;
- Keith Moore, from Petty Harbour’s Mini Aquarium—a catch-and-release aquarium—who gave us a taste of salt cod.
- With Michelle and Jim Lester, a seventh generation farming couple, we toured the new state-of-the-art, zero-waste aquaponic facility on Lester’s Farm, just outside of St John’s. The Lesters’ goal: to grow lettuce and raise tilapia to sell across the province in a combined and sustainable system.
- Mark Lane of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association spoke with us about the possibilities of developing land-based fish farming systems. NAIA represents finfish and shellfish farmers, hatchery producers, supply and service companies as well as academic Institutions developing products with Blue Mussels, Atlantic Salmon, Steelhead trout and Atlantic Cod.
- Anthropologist, historian and author of Fish Into Wine, Peter Pope, gave us a bigger-picture view of fishing across the centuries in Newfoundland and explained the notions of triangular trading and the much-maligned merchant system.
- Larry Dohey, an archivist from the Rooms—home to the biggest museum, exhibition space and archival collections in the province—primed us on the cultural history of Newfoundland and Labrador, covering everything from the first French and Portuguese fishers on local shores to today’s diversified fisheries.
Tony Doyle is a sixth-generation fisher from Bay de Verde and Vice President of the Inshore Division at FFAW-Unifor. He endured the devastating impact of the Cod Moratorium on Newfoundland’s outport communities, in 1992, and went on to diversify his catch and help reshape the fishing industry in more sustainable ways. The following is a condensed excerpt from his presentations at Bacalao and Rocket Bakery.
“Fishing wasn’t just a job; it consumed us all in our community every single day. The off-season, winter, was all about preparation; even at parties, we’d sit and talk about cod.
1992 was the year of the Moratorium. We had fished cod for around 500 years here before that. But a number of things went wrong—in the mid-60s to early 70s—starting with foreign overfishing.
Once the cod fishery closed in ‘92, it was very difficult for most of the communities here: A lot of people upped sticks and left. Some of us, myself included, hung on. We tried to keep body and soul together with some money the federal government was giving us to stop fishing cod, and also by fishing other species.
Around 1996, the crab resource took off. As small boat fishermen, we weren’t fishing the crab at that time, but we lobbied politicians and bureaucrats, so we could get into it. Eventually we got our own zone. And we started to initiate some ideas that would help us sustain the resource and help rebuild stocks to a higher level.
We only fish the large, male crabs, which are over 95mm—some of those guys can get up to 120 mm, and they’re something really big. We use traps with escape mechanisms that allow undersized and female crabs to escape. They’ll crawl out of the pot at the bottom, so that we don’t have to take them aboard the boats and handle them, because when you do that, there’s mortality.
Another thing we did was a trial with biodegradable twine, so if we lost a pot and it was left in the water, within twelve months the twine would deteriorate and rot. That way, there’d be a hole in the pot and any crabs that got in there could crawl out. That meant there was no ghost fishing [unmanned pots or nets trapping and ultimately killing fish and shellfish that would never be harvested]. The DFO brought that in as a condition of getting a license in 2013. Those are just some of the things that we have done.
Now shrimp and scallops have been caught here too for the last twenty years. And the cod is coming back. That’s part of the reason why we did the fisheries improvement program with WWF, because we want to make sure that as the stock rebuild and we start a fishery again and processing the cod and getting into the markets, that we do it in a sustainable manner. We want to offer good quality fish that people will really like.”