Industry debates the ‘future of fish’ at Innovations & Insights London event


The recent Future of Fish event in London brought together 100 food founders, chefs, innovators, and campaigners to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the fishing industry and the evidence of positive progress. Hosted by Mission Kitchen as part of its Tomorrow’s Table series, which looks at the future of food and its impact on people and the planet, the day’s proceedings began with an introduction from award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jenny Jefferies.

The one-day symposium explored the trends, challenges, and issues affecting the fish and seafood industry and attracted an impressive line-up of speakers. These included Guy Standing (author of The Blue Commons: Rescuing the Economy of the Sea), Sea Sisters (craft cannery specialising in preserving British fish), Offshore Shellfish (the UK’s first large-scale offshore rope-grown mussel farm), and the first female master fishmonger Elaine Lorys.

The event opened with an overview of our love of the sea and ocean bounty, worldwide initiatives in place to protect the sector, the availability of delicious recipes which highlight the diversity of fish and seafood and ultimately, a call to action for attendees to play a part in preserving this precious resource and its associated industries.

– Key themes explored during the presentations & panel discussions included:

– Exports of British fish are around 80%, yet the nation imports nearly the same number

– The need for sustainability – not just in terms of shifting consumer demand toward local species of fish and seafood but also in terms of preserving the profession against the rising tide of reducing numbers of fishermen/women in the last decade

– The need for scientists, fishermen and women to work together to improve understanding and collaboration to work towards a sustainable seafood sector

– The opportunity for rope-grown mussels to be acknowledged as a superfood using sustainable aquaculture techniques – with minimal processing required

– The next wave of plant-based seafood alternatives which address environmental concerns and meet consumer expectations (ethics /price/taste/nutrition)

– Barriers and myths associated with women entering the fishing profession and the potential for women to be the future of fish

– The urgent proposal for a Cabinet Minister of the Sea to defend and promote the interests of the blue environment and economy

Delegates also had the opportunity to sample farmed yellowtail, also known as hamachi, during the Art of Sushi workshop. Sourced from The Kingfish Company, sushi chef Izumi Nakamura used this highly prized species to demonstrate the art of professional fish slicing. In addition, CJ Jackson, Chief Executive Officer at The Seafood School at Billingsgate, opened visitors’ eyes to the culinary possibilities of the most sustainable yet hugely underrepresented fish and seafood species.

Guests were wowed by a welcome lunch from Chef Mircel McSween – an interpretation of what a future Fish & Chips could look and taste like. Hake, pollock and coley were encased in the crispiest batter – all species representing a superb replacement for traditional and under-threat cod and haddock. The aim was to draw attention to the potential for fish & chip shops around the UK to take a chance on these species.

The day concluded with an alfresco Ocean Current Banquet table showcasing the best of the ocean bounty and plant-based innovation, plus a fresh oyster bar run by twin female fishmongers Sista Shuck.

Commenting on the Future of Fish event, Paul Smyth, Co-founder and Creative Director of Mission Kitchen said:- “The Future of Fish is part of our Tomorrow’s Table series, designed to provide a global forum to debate critical food matters. The focus on fish was a logical progression, with media attention on the state of our oceans at an all-time high, not just in relation to the sustainability agenda but also in response to the diverse range of economic and political factors increasingly governing the availability of fish to feed the nation. We are delighted with the response to this symposium, which attracted a stellar line-up of speakers and workshop providers – and consequently, delivered ticket sales which represented a sell-out event. The diverse range of speakers and delegates participating in this ground-breaking initiative ensured a high standard of constructive, thought-provoking discussion and valuable networking, with guests benefiting from unprecedented access to a wide range of industry experts.”

Presentations delivered at the Future of Fish can be found

The Future of Fish was sponsored by The Mark Leonard Trust.