Scottish fisherman Colin Stephen, skipper of the Harvest Hope fishing trawler, features in the latest edition of the Marine Stewardship Council Ocean Cookbook – a collection of sustainable seafood recipes from chefs around the world, with each of their recipes shot by renowned food photographer David Loftus.
The Ocean Cookbook 2023, now in its third edition, aims to raise awareness of sustainable seafood at a time of year when many people are looking for healthy, affordable and sustainable options as part of their New Year’s resolutions.
This year’s UK recipe is made with coley, a more affordable white fish alternative to cod, which is caught by the Scottish fishing fleet, alongside other sustainable species like haddock, hake and plaice. Coley, also known as saithe, has been certified as sustainable to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, the gold standard of sustainability for seafood, since 2013. The blue MSC ecolabel is the world’s most recognised ecolabel for sustainable seafood.
All of the digital cookbook recipes are created using seafood from MSC certified fisheries, and feature species like hake, tuna, mussels and haddock. The fishermen and women who caught the seafood star in the cookbook alongside the chefs, showing the strong connection between catcher and creator.
The UK recipe – steamed coley with winter vegetables - was created by Cornish chef James Strawbridge, who is a fan of Scottish seafood. James visited Shetland to create a series of recipes using crab and scallops for the MSC’s Sustainable Seafood Week last year, where he also experimented with cooking coley.
Fisherman Colin, who started fishing straight from school and fishes out of Peterhead, says the first three months of the year are the best for catching coley as this is when they tend to be found in big shoals
“Sustainable fishing is paramount,” he adds.
“Anyone with a sensible head on the shoulder has to do what is sustainable for the stock,” he said. “It’s your future you are working with and gambling with – why jeopardise it? You have to think about the long term.”
Chef James, who is also an MSC UK ambassador and sustainability expert, said: “MSC coley, aka saithe, is a great sustainable choice for white fish. Although often overlooked, coley has a delicate, sweet flavour and light texture that pairs well with seasonal winter veg and a herby crumb. When you choose seafood with the blue MSC ecolabel, it means you’re supporting fishermen who are helping to keep the seafood you love on your plate, forever.”
George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland Programme Director, said: “With the cost of living soaring, consumers are looking for white fish alternatives for tasty family fish suppers. Coley is a fantastic and versatile fish and can be a more affordable option for a fish pie or baked fish. Coley, or saithe as it is known, is a local, UK landed species, caught by Scottish fishermen, so by choosing MSC certified coley, consumers are supporting British fishermen and ensuring their seafood is sustainable, and not contributing to overfishing. We should all be eating more of this great fish.”
MSC certified mussels also feature in the cookbook. Scottish mussels, which were the first enhanced fisheries in Scotland to be MSC-certified in 2012, were recertified to the MSC standard in December 2022.
Rope grown mussels from farms in the Shetland Islands, and those around Scotland are members of the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group and are responsible for around two-thirds of Scotland’s mussel production.