Sustainable Seafood Dinner part of larger picture

By Catie Hall
On April 15, 2014

The University of New Hampshire will be the first college in the country to sign on to 'Slow Fish Principles,' which aim to bring local fish into campus dining halls and form a relationship between fishermen and UNH.

UNH Dining is collaborating with a Boston-based fish processing plant. UNH Senior Spencer Montgomery explained, "New Hampshire doesn't have its own facilities that can make these whole fish into something that UNH can prepare for the students. So, until UNH gets to that point, we're going to be working with the processing center in Boston." 

On Wed., April 16, the culmination of hard work and a trip to the Boston processor will be showcased during the Sustainable Seafood Dinner at Holloway Commons from 4:30 - 9 p.m. Nautical decorations - seashells, a Sand-Piper plastic bird, sea glass - already line some of the HoCo walls and shelf-spaces.

At the dinner, dining managers will publicly sign Slow Fish Principles for University dining halls. Ideally, it will revitalize local fishing and provide students with healthy meal alternatives. 

"'Slow Fish Principles' was drafted by students, with direct guidance from vital organizations such as N.H. Sea Grant, Granite State Fish, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and the Sustainability Institute at UNH," Montgomery said in a written summary. "Final review of the principles was offered by Slow Fish International in Bra, Italy." 

Among other things, UNH commits to purchasing local fish at a fair price by signing on to the principles. 

"The goal, and the moral of the story, is really to preserve small-scale, artisanal fishing because it's dying off in New Hampshire really quickly," Montgomery continued. "Right now our fishing industry is being consolidated and concentrated to less and less boats. So we really need to step back and look at smaller producers the same way that we're looking at smaller scale farmers. 

"We really just need to create new viable markets for New England fishermen," Montgomery said. 

Slow Fish Principles outlines several commitments that will help to achieve these goals, such as purchasing the "under-utilized species of fish" that are caught locally. It also decrees that "in-state products" will be preferred. 

As Montgomery explained, "A core focus of the principles is the inclusion of 'underloved' species of fish on the menu. Underloved species include fish that are being caught abundantly in local waters, but currently possess little market value close to home. Eating underloved alleviates pressure from heavily overfished species and provides opportunity for discovering new tastes."

This year, Montgomery said some of New Hampshire's underloved fish are cusk, dogfish, Acadian redfish and pollock.

For these fish, Montgomery said chefs play an important part because they have to commit to a certain level of adaptability as they work with seasonal fish. The adaptability will be visible during the seafood dinner. 

Featured items for the Sustainable Seafood Dinner will be hake, scallops, lobster, skate wing tacos and locally grown kelp among others, according to the table-tent advertisement for the meal. 

The dinner is free for students with a meal plan; $22.95 for adults; $11.50 for children under 10.


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