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New cod on the block

by 5m Editor
1 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't want to get in their way. A great green-grey face surfaces to inspect me with its liquid topaz eyes: beneath the cod'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. 'Ooh - they don't like that ,' 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. 'They're docile but they're highly intelligent. They really watch you and they know what's going on. Unlike salmon, which just swim around aimlessly, like sheep.' These fish were caught off the northern coast of Shetland in 2001 and taken to the islands' 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'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 'organic, farmed cod', supplied by Lesley'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'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. Source: The Gaurdian

5m Editor