What inspired you to set up a sustainable fish restaurant in Belfast?
The idea to establish Fish City started after the 2007 financial crash. I could see potential in the Fish and Chip Industry, it is the nation’s favourite takeaway, but few people were elevating it to be served in a sit-down restaurant. Developing the business to become sustainable came afterwards. Primary school groups were being shown around the restaurant to be taught about ocean life and conservation and, listening to these classes, I realised how hypocritical it was of us to not be learning these lessons too. At first, I wanted to develop a traditional business and didn’t consider the environmental and societal impact of that decision. The more research I did into sustainable fishery and nutrition I realised I only had to make small changes to make a big impact in my community.
Who provides your fresh, local, and seasonal produce?
The fish we buy comes from wholesalers based in Belfast and are caught within a 50mile radius. We are gold members of the Marine Conservation Society, meaning we use the good fish guide to direct us to which fish have been sustainably caught and, therefore, which fish we can serve. We never serve fish that has a red or amber rating. We have Ideas to develop the communication between fisheries and retailers, so that fresh fish can be bought more easily straight from the boat, which would be a huge step for traceability.
Have you noticed increased interest in sustainable food after the pandemic?
Yes! Especially in young people, there is a definite change coming in the new generations. We are all more aware and more informed, we can all see the direct impacts of climate change. When we first discussed making sustainability our priority, many people in the industry asked 'Why? How does it benefit you?'. Now, we see more and more restaurants in Northern Ireland becoming Msc Certified and we’re really happy to see this transformation.
What are your best selling dishes?
Cod and Haddock fish and chips are always our most popular, but shellfish, like muscles and crab, are also very popular. We like to promote muscles on the menu because when rope grown locally in the UK, they benefit the local environment by filtering the water.