We're pleased to be supporting Hugh's Fish Fight along with nearly 700,000 others, but that's simply not enough. The campaign needs more supporters, more momentum, and that will come only through education. The pub has always been a source of information, a meeting place for all sorts of people — tradesmen, travellers, locals — all meeting, chatting, swapping information over a pint.
Great pubs with great staff often don't realise how much influence they can have on their customers. The pub is the perfect place to encourage customers to try new fish, away from the more formal surroundings of a restaurant where they may feel too uncomfortable to ask what a gurnard is, for example.
We're lucky to have a fantastic family-run fish wholesaler (Direct Seafoods) based locally.
Last year it sent my chef and I on a Marine Stewardship Council- sponsored training day in Hastings. Our eyes were opened to the fact that sustainable fishing is commercially possible, and will be even more so if the quota system is updated. But the key to this is to make species other than mainstream varieties, such as cod, viable for the fishermen.
This will only happen if people start eating them, if pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and chippies order different fish and encourage their customers to try them.
Well-trained, knowledgeable staff should have no trouble convincing a cod fan to try pouting or coley.
We've had a sustainable ordering policy for more than a year, always trying to ensure our fish is from sustainable stocks and caught using sustainable methods.
Hugh's Fish Fight has encouraged us to go one step further. Every week we host 'Fish Fight Fridays' where we not only serve sustainable fish on our specials boards, but choose lesser-known species such as pouting, megrim sole, sprats, sardines — or our beer-battered mackerel and chips. The evenings have gained momentum, we're getting locals to book specifically for fish and have had requests for some of the sustainable specials to return to the boards.
Log on to www.fishfight.net and urge your customers to do the same. More than half of fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back dead. Huge change is needed in the quota system and people's eating habits. Hugh, Jamie, Gordon and Heston, four of the best-known chefs in the UK are behind the campaign. Are you?
Mitch Adams is licensee of the Thatcher's Arms in Mount Bures, Essex