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New cod on the block

by the Fish Site Editor
01 May 2006, at 1:00am

UK - Five years ago, only a handful of cod were netted off the Shetlands. Now, their farmed, organic offspring - beloved of Pierece Brosnan and Demi Moore - number 2.5 million. Are they the bright saviour of our traditional fish-and-chip supper, asks Alex Renton, or simply the new battery chickens of the sea? Nine fish are moving around the vats like buses in a garage:heavy, purposeful; you wouldn&#39;t want to get in their way. A great green-grey face surfaces to inspect me with its liquid topaz eyes: beneath the cod&#39;s lower lip there trembles the characteristic flava-sava beardlet. The flash from my camera fills their cosy gloom with light and the reaction is fury - a tirade of angry tails and water droplets. &#39;Ooh - they don&#39;t like that ,&#39; says Lesley McEvoy, looking reproachfully at me. McEvoy and these cod, some as long as my arm, are old friends - she has lived with them for five years. She respects them. &#39;They&#39;re docile but they&#39;re highly intelligent. They really watch you and they know what&#39;s going on. Unlike salmon, which just swim around aimlessly, like sheep.&#39; These fish were caught off the northern coast of Shetland in 2001 and taken to the islands&#39; fisheries college. There McEvoy headed a research team looking into a radical new idea to replace the jobs being lost as the salmon-farming industry collapsed - breeding and ranching cod. Now two-and-a-half-million children of Lesley&#39;s cod are swimming in pens in the sea lochs of Shetland. And later this month the first of them will appear on the shelves of Tesco and another yet-to-be-named supermarket as &#39;organic, farmed cod&#39;, supplied by Lesley&#39;s employers, Johnson Seafarms. While farmed cod has been seen in Britain over the last couple of years - Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have experimented with a non-organic fish and Johnson&#39;s cod has been occasionally available in a few restaurants since 2004 - this is something else, something historic: the beginning of the mass availability of organically and sustainably farmed ocean fish, on the high street at a competitive price. <i>Source: The Gaurdian</i>

the Fish Site Editor