Patrick Hughes: Seasonal bounty of the sea something to appreciate

Scotland is renowned worldwide for its high-quality seafood
Scotland is renowned worldwide for its high-quality seafood
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Knowing where our food comes from is something we should all take seriously, not only for ourselves but also for our children. If we were to educate children from an early age on the origins and the seasonal cycles of food it would most definitely help them in the long term to make more informed food choices as they progress into adulthood.

Some things are easier said than done though, particularly in such a diverse sector.

It is relatively straightforward to see when land-based crops and produce are in season through increased activity, in fields and poly-tunnels – whether it is the sight of combine harvesters working their way through fields of wheat or the small army of fruit pickers busily gathering soft fruit crops on their way to local and national retailers.

What are less obvious are the seasonal changes that happen beneath our coastal waters.

Scotland produces some of the world’s finest seafood from the clean cool waters of its deep lochs and surrounding seas. Fishermen, fish farmers and shellfish growers from around Scotland’s 11,000 miles of pristine coastline land over 65 species of the highest quality farmed fish and wild seafood across the seasonal calendar.

With landings of pelagic, whitefish, shellfish and farmed species, Scotland is one of the EU’s largest seafood producers. Renowned throughout the world for its high-quality produce, we satisfy the needs of today’s increasingly demanding consumer and the exacting standards of the world’s best chefs.

And, if one species is out of season, there is always another to try. How many Scots know that the best time of year for the celebrated langoustine is October and November, but the best season for its larger friend the lobster, begins around July? Or that while the summer months aren’t core season for whitefish like cod and haddock, plaice and lemon sole are at their best?

Through innovation and product development, Scotland adapts to changing market needs to produce world-class seafood that is safe, fully traceable, responsibly sourced and delicious – throughout the seasons.

We are proud of the efforts made to ensure a highly regulated seafood industry. Scotland leads the way in many responsible and sustainable farming and fishing practices whilst maintaining its pristine marine environment and helping to preserve the seas and fish stocks. Our fishermen are fully committed to maintaining an economically viable and sustainable industry for future generations.

Through working closely with government, scientists and environmental NGOs (non-governmental organisations), our industry has taken a proactive approach to sustainability, engaging in pioneering fishing and sustainable certification programmes, to become an acknowledged leader in European sustainable fisheries management.

For consumers, buying Scottish and staying true to seasonal selection might mean trying new species of seafood when old favourites are out of season. However, we are lucky – Scotland boasts more than enough tasty and healthy varieties to satisfy any fish fanatic or discerning chef.

Patrick Hughes is head of 
Seafood Scotland