Fishermen’s Stories at Slow Fish, Genoa (Italy) from May 27th to 30th
Slow Fish is back at the Genoa Fiera (Italy) from May 27th to 30th, the fifth biannual international event dedicated to the world of fish and marine ecosystems. Debates, meetings, workshops and tastings will focus on issues linked to sustainable fishing and responsible seafood consumption.
The Fish Tales – Granaries of Memory are offering small groups of no more than 30 a chance to chat with the people who have dedicated their lives to fishing and the sea: restaurateurs, food producers and fishermen, their way of life shaped by the need to protect the marine environment and maintain traditions. The events include a food and wine tasting.
Frank Fleming probably took his first steps on a boat. His love for the sea dates back to when he was a child and his father would take him and his big brother out fishing on the Atlantic Ocean in front of Schull, in County Cork on Ireland’s southern coast. After his brother graduated with a degree in engineering, the two decided to buy a fishing boat and turn their passion into a profession. Frank was only 20, but he already had very clear ideas. He knew the sea and how to respect it, how to work without plundering its resources. But over the years the difficulties have grown, particularly for small-scale fishermen like the Flemings who have to compete with huge quantities of industrially caught fish arriving from around the world and deal with restrictive legislation at both a European Union and a local level.
Four years ago Frank founded “Responsible Irish Fish,” an initiative designed to promote fishing that respected the marine environment and to support the local economy. “Responsible Irish Fish” is also a certification guaranteeing traceability (all fish comes from Irish fishing boats that only catch local species) and respect for 14 shared sustainability criteria that regulate onboard practices. Frank is certain that responsible fishing and safeguarding the local economy are the right way to ensure a future not only for the environment, but also his trade. “All fishermen should have at heart the protection of the marine ecosystem, otherwise they have no future. The growing globalization of the market and the impoverishment of resources have convinced us even more that it is necessary to distinguish ourselves from industrial fishing with a certification that reflects our way of living and working. It’s a gamble that has paid off: Even though it’s a young initiative, we’ve had a very positive response from the community, and we have high hopes for the future. Often buying local ingredients produced following rational practices means choosing the best quality on the market, and the advantage is dual: for us and for the consumers.”
Fish Tales – Granaries of Memory – Fisherman Frank and Responsible Irish Fish – Friday May 27, 8 pm
Read Frank Fleming’s interview here:
Giovanni Martinotti and Francesco Aralda are the last representatives of a family of fishermen from nearby Casale Monferrato, though it’s been 30 years since they last fished the River Po. And unlike some, they don’t blame the spread of the wels catfish. “After the war the river was generous to its people. At Terranova di Casale, a hamlet of Casale Monferrato, 50 families were living off its resources. Today they’ve poisoned it, they’ve squeezed it between strange embankments. My Po has been a victim of progress and the changing tastes of Italians.” Giovanni, son and nephew of fishermen, has become a custodian of the village’s tradition, and still remembers well the gestures and rites he saw repeated hundreds of times when as a boy he would go out on the river with his father and uncle. Francesco, who like Giovanni was born in 1937, was Terranova’s last fisherman. He stopped taking his nets out on the river only at the start of the 1980s. In the past, people used to live well from fishing. They didn’t get rich, certainly, but the privileged relationship with the river guaranteed them an income considerably higher than a field laborer. The main method used for catching fish was the trammel net, which brought many fish to the shore: chub, barbel, carp and sometimes a few trout. Eels were trapped using tins with holes punched in them; once the curious animals entered it was impossible for them to get out. Until the 1960s the fish was loaded onto a truck in the middle of the night and taken to Turin to be sold at the Porta Palazzo market. But the market for river fish dried up as demand and supply declined more or less simultaneously. The availability of fish from the sea changed the tastes of the inhabitants of the plains around the Po, and at the same time traditional varieties almost completely disappeared from the river’s waters. “As long as it was respected, the river was generous: It offered food, timber transported by the current and good earnings. Today it is one of the most notorious victims of progress.”
Fish Tales – Granaries of Memory – Remembering the Po – Saturday May 28, 5 pm
Thrace, in the extreme northeast of Greece, is a land of myth and mystery, poised between Europe and Asia, and its waters teem with fish. So it comes as no surprise that the sea has been the primary source of sustenance for the Thracians, long known as expert fishers. The region is home to Stavros Kontos and Georgios Zoidis, two fishermen who will be sharing their experiences at Slow Fish. Stavros is 64, carrier of the unique traditional knowledge of the old people of Alexandroupolis, a coastal town whose identity is closely bound to the sea. Georgios is 16 and comes from a family that has been fishing for three generations. Following his father’s teachings, he fishes from small boats using traditional methods.
Fish Tales – Granaries of Memory – The Fishermen of Thrace Between Past and Future – Sunday May 29, 5 pm
Slow Fish is organized by the Liguria Regional Authority, Slow Food and Mareterra di Liguria – Fondazione Carige,with the patronage of the Italian Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies; the Genoa Provincial Authority and the City of Genoa and with the support of the Genoa Chamber of Commerce.