The fishy business of overfishing
Dubai; Did you know well over half of the U.A.E’s fish catch is of species fished beyond sustainable levels including the ever-popular hammour? By overfishing, we mean catching more fish than what the oceans can sustain, therefore depleting the fish population. If you love your seafood, and want to continue eating it for years to come, then FooDiva urges you to read on.
Luckily the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with the WWF runs the ‘Choose Wisely’ consumer campaign to drive much-needed awareness of this alarming issue, but we need to spread the word further. By choosing to buy sustainable fish only, we can lower the demand for threatened species.
Choose Wisely has categorised the U.A.E’s fish species into three groups;
- Red for heavily overfished stock (60% of fish species)
- Orange for species exploited within sustainable levels
- Green for stock not experiencing heavy fishing pressure
So what fish should you be looking for? Those with very colourful names; the pink ear emperor (shaari eshkeli), orange-spotted trevally (jesh um al hala), sordid sweetlips (yanam), yellow bar angelfish (anfooz), black-streaked monocle bream (ebzimi), two-bar seabream (faskar), ehrenbergs snapper (naiser), yellow fin seabream (shaam) and blackspotted rubberlip (hilali). You can download the wallet size consumer guide here – perfect for supermarket shopping.
Note, in most cases the fish are identified with their Arabic names.
Having trawled most of Dubai’s supermarkets, Carrefour, Choitrams and Lulu have the largest shoal of these fishies, as do each emirates’ fish markets. As for restaurants, many tend to import their fish but Hilton Dubai Creek’s Glasshouse and the Grand Hyatt have championed the local sustainability drive in Dubai, with even more hotels in Abu Dhabi embracing the initiative; the Sheratons, Meridiens, Fairmont, Radisson, Grand Millennium and Aloft. Anantara’s Desert Islands Resort is also a proud supporter. And Fujairah residents, Le Meridien Al Aqah is your best bet. We need more hotels and restaurants to review their fish menus.
Scott Price, Executive Chef of Hilton Dubai Creek is so passionate about fish sustainability, he went as far as to remove hammour from the entire hotel menus over a year ago. “My motto is if we don’t use it, guests can’t have it, and hopefully will choose something else. There are lots of other fish available and we use them on the weekly lunch menu in Glasshouse. 75 Dhs for two courses, and 95 Dhs for three.”
Choose Wisely also has its very own cookbook with recipes from U.A.E residents featuring sustainable fish. You can download the recipes here.
So next time you’re at the fishmmonger’s counter, or perusing a menu, do ask for one of the nine sustainable fishes – they are just as tasty, if not more. Feel free to share this post with your family, friends and restaurateurs – we need to spread the word.
Do you make a concerted effort to buy the less overfished species? Where do you buy your fish? Any other hotels/ restaurants serving sustainable fish?