Seafood trails lead to healthier food options

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Alan McCulla, managing director of Sea Source in Kilkeel, one of Northern Ireland’s seafood processors, sees the new trails as an important development for the industry

Fourteen Seafood Trails have been laid out with the aim of raising awareness of Northern Ireland’s exceptional fish and seafood industry, particularly among the locals here.

The trails, developed by Seafish, the UK body that promotes fish and seafood, are being launched today (Saturday) at a special celebratory event at the iconic St George Food Market in Belfast.

The goal is to promote the consumption of wild-caught and locally-raised sustainable seafood that will support the national fishing industry. Locals and visitors will be able to take a trip to meet producers and enjoy freshly landed products in our harbors and ports.

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Crawford Ewing, manager of Ewing’s Seafoods in Belfast – Northern Ireland’s ‘best fishmonger’, is a strong supporter of the new Seafood Trails

The campaign recognizes that over 20,000 tonnes of various wild fish and shellfish are landed each year at local ports, most of which is exported and consumed overseas, while local diets often tend to include seafood. sea ​​imported.

Alan McCulla, Sea Source CE in Kilkeel, our main fishing port, explains: “Northern Ireland’s Seafood Trails provide a great platform to celebrate the variety of seafood we have to offer. By exploring the bustling fishing port and port towns that feature on these trails and learning about our rich fishing heritage along the way, we believe families will be encouraged to eat more local, sustainable and healthy seafood, and through this, helping our vital seafood industry to thrive.

And Crawford Ewing, Manager of Ewing’s Seafoods in Belfast, recently named NI’s Best Fishmonger, adds: “This is a wonderful initiative from one of our most important industries. Anything that encourages more people here to learn about the industry and appreciate the real health benefits, in particular, of fish and seafood is welcome.

Seafood is widely considered an essential part of a healthy diet and is central to what has come to be known as the “Mediterranean diet” which is believed to help reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease. Now, it has also been shown by a team of Israeli scientists that people who lose weight on a Mediterranean-style diet maintain their weight, unlike people who follow other diets.

Celebrity chef Suzie Lee, who cooks at the launch, agrees: “Making seafood delicious isn’t hard, and it’s a really healthy option for the family. The trails should entice more people to sample our superb seafood.

Suzie, winner of the BBC Best Home Cook 2020 and host of the hugely popular ‘Home Cook Hero’ series, is an advocate for fresh, local produce and small suppliers. It is well placed to celebrate the variety of fish and shellfish available throughout Northern Ireland.

The trails highlight bustling port towns from Kilkeel to Portstewart and capture a snippet of NI’s wide variety of independent seafood shacks and restaurants, heritage centers and family-friendly activities.

The trails include colorful maps – illustrated by Le Morne artist Piera Cirefice – and are designed to guide families on a “seafood adventure in ports” through the path of their choice, from bustling docks to peaceful treasures of maritime museums”.

Glenarm, home to Northern Ireland’s world renowned salmon farming, is another destination

Funding was provided by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), a government fund that supports sustainable development

in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and are provided by SeafishUK in conjunction with Mindfully Wired Communications.

Our seafood products have long been enjoyed throughout Europe, the United States and the Middle East. It can now be found in top restaurants and retail outlets around the world. Processors in Kilkeel, Portavogie, Annalong and Glenarm generated around £60million in sales outside Northern Ireland last year and employ nearly 600 people.

Seafood such as oysters, shelled and breaded prawns, crabmeat and scallops can be found in some of Europe’s biggest stores, including Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc in France. Other markets looking to Northern Ireland for fresh seafood include the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Lebanon, Hong Kong and Japan. It is also an industry with a strong commitment to innovation in the form of new products, including Queenie scallops and cooked langoustines.

Kilkeel, the world’s largest seafood port, is a destination on one of 14 trails

Glenarm’s organic smoked salmon has also attracted orders from high-end hotels and restaurants in Britain, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong and the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. Glenarm salmon is one of the most popular local foods at London’s iconic Fortnum and Mason grocery store in Piccadilly.

Probably Northern Ireland’s oldest fish processor, Rooney Fish, for example, sells everything it processes outside Northern Ireland and has become a market leader in shellfish, including prawns, langoustines, mussels, whelks and crabs, sourced from the Irish Sea for customers in Europe and Asia. . The company’s Millbay oysters, which are farmed at Carlingford Lough in what is Ireland’s largest oyster farm, have won acclaim in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

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