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Buy sustainable British fish to help save fish and chip shops

We're an island nation with a proud maritime history, but bizarrely our eating habits don’t match up with what our fishermen catch.

British fishing boats land far more mackerel, herring and shellfish than we do cod and haddock. But our national dish, fish and chips, does not reflect that.

Because Brits overwhelmingly choose to eat cod and haddock, our fish and chip shops import supplies from other nations, including Iceland, Norway and Russia.

In the wake of Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, we are now in a ludicrous situation of supporting Russia's economy instead of our fishing communities every time we visit the chippy.

While British businesses and consumers are willing to bear the brunt to help stop Putin's invasion, Faroe Islands' decision to use a loophole to let Russian fishermen into our shared special fishing area is appalling.

The government must work with these islands to close this loophole.

They're already feeling the squeeze because half of our sunflower oil was imported from Ukraine before the invasion. With sanctions and possible shortages, a third of our fish and chip shops could close.

But, we the British consumer, could keep them open and revive our fishing communities by buying locally caught fish. Supermarkets have a big role to play in helping the nation choose British fish over imports, but the government must play its part by improving the health of our seas.

Freed from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, we can restore our depleted stocks by introducing sustainable fishing quotas. If we can restore our waters after decades of disastrous mismanagement in the bloc, we can put affordable food on the table and protect our seas.

To do this, we must also ban bottom-trawling in the UK's Marine Protected Areas. This damaging method - which EU vessels are responsible for 60 percent of - wrecks our seabed and overfishes, endangering UK fishing stocks.

While leaving the EU is an opportunity to reallocate fishing quotas to British boats and take back control of our waters, as consumers we should also think about what's on our plates.

In 2020, our fishermen landed six times as much mackerel, herring and blue whiting than cod and haddock. And almost as much crab and scallops as the classic fish and chip choice.

Buying British catch would support our fish and chip shops and our fishermen.

First published by the Daily Express. Cherilyn Mackrory MP (Truro and Falmouth) is a member of the Conservative Environment Network.


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