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The question you should be asking about your fish and chips

Friday 12 March 2021

Cuisine magazine has devoted most of its March edition to a celebration of New Zealand seafood, and they have done an outstanding job.

The magazine features interviews with Yellow Brick Road’s Martin Bosley and Tom Searle of Lee Fish as well as a feature on artisanal fishing companies Gravity Fishing, Awatoru and Waikanae Crab.  

Beautifully photographed and including many seafood recipes it is a credit to all involved.

But it was Editor Kelli Brett’s opinion piece that got us thinking.

Ms Brett asks whether we should be asking if the fish we get at our fish and chips shop is New Zealand caught.

The answer of course is, yes, we should be asking.

We would like to think that, with New Zealand’s oceans teeming with fish the chances of our chippies selling us imported fish such as tilapia or basa is low but according to Martin Bosley, we might be surprised.

Basa and tilapia are a type of freshwater catfish and they are farmed in pens along the Mekong and Chao Phraya Rivers which run through many Southeast Asian countries. Imports into New Zealand have increased in the past five years.

Increasingly, fish and chip shops are giving you the chance to pick your own fillet, so you know exactly what you are eating, and we welcome that, but it is a more expensive option. Being able to identify the fish species in your run-of-the-mill fish and chips should be as easy.

There are many reasonably-priced and locally sourced options, including rig, lemonfish, elephant fish and gemfish and we are fairly sure the consumer would prefer that local fish over a species from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

However, we need to get into the habit of asking, not presuming.

The New Zealand inshore fishery employs thousands of Kiwis, the seafood is caught sustainably and there is plenty of it.

Cuisine has started its own list of fish and chip shops that use sustainably caught New Zealand fish in their fish and chips and would like to see the list grow. So would we. If you operate such an establishment, email  to be added.

And for the consumers out there, next time you place an order at the chippy, ask the question.

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