You obviously know us at Coombe Farm Organic, as organic farmers and butchers. It’s fair to say that we know a thing or two about sustainably managing the land. However, we are admittedly less of an expert when it comes to the production of fish. We do however think that it makes up a very important part of our diet - despite championing meat, we believe less is more and that a diet should be a flexible balance of protein from sustainably sourced meat, fish, and vegetarian sources too.
So, we have set about improving our Fish offering so that we can provide you with plenty of choice if you’re casting your net further than meat alone. Working with a carefully chosen supplier from the South West, we have focused on providing a small and consistent range of sustainably sourced, delicious fish that we are able to keep in stock throughout the year. The majority of the fish is caught in the North Atlantic and landed in Devon and Cornwall or occasionally Scotland, before being expertly filleted and delivered to us. We then immediately blast-freeze it - this locks in all the freshness, flavour and nutritional value and means you get the longest possible shelf life at home.
Of course, it is paramount that fish is sustainably sourced - for the management of our marine ecosystems, in order to respect fish stock levels and ensure overfishing does not occur. Overfishing to meet the demands of the consumer have meant certain stocks of fish have gone into decline, the demand has been so high that the fish stocks have not be given time to replenish. It is said that 1/3rd of fish stocks are overfished, which really is quite shocking. Sustainable fishing allows fisheries to work closely with scientists to look at the patterns of growth and decline of fish stocks, these occur through births, deaths and migration. By analysing this data, the ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (this is how much a fish species can be fished before overfishing occurs) is calculated and this allows responsible fishing to occur, working with nature, instead of against it.
There is a wide spectrum of ways that fish can be caught or farmed, and certification schemes help you identify which standards the fish you are buying has been subject too. At Coombe Farm Organic we only stock sustainable fish – all either organically certified or approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent non-profit organization which sets a standard for sustainable fishing - their iconic blue logo makes identifying seafood products that have come from well-managed and sustainable fisheries very simple, ensuring healthy oceans and safeguarding seafood supplies for the future.
All of our Salmon is certified organic so that we can guarantee consistently excellent flavour and texture. The salmon is reared in the chilly, fast-flowing waters of the Irish Sea, off the coast of Antrim. It’s reared in Spring which mimics an Atlantic salmon’s natural reproductive cycle. The salmon are fed an approved organic feed which is GMO-free, with only natural pigments used in the organic salmon feed, resulting in a slightly paler flesh, in comparison to conventionally farmed salmon whose feed has been manipulated to enhance their pink flesh colour. Space is essential in any organic farming system and these salmon are no exception, with lower stocking densities meaning lots of freedom to move and grow, the space is double that of conventional fish farming systems. This space paired with clean saltwater with a strong flow ensures the salmon grow lean and strong, resulting in a better-tasting fish.
Our fine English ChalkStream® Trout is grown on the world famous Test and Itchen Rivers in Hampshire. Slow grown for 2 years in fast flowing pure chalk stream water, these artisan farmed trout are raised in conditions as close to wild trout as possible, to create an exceptionally lean fish with a unique and delicate taste. Any overflow water passes through specially designed settling channels to remove any waste before returning to the river, and this comes through in the clarity of flavour.
ChalkStream® farms are fully segregated systems, which minimises the impact on the unique chalk stream environments of the main rivers. The outflow from the farms pass through specially designed settling channels to remove waste and ensure the water returns to the river in the same class A rated condition. The Test and Itchen Rivers are two of the most highly monitored rivers in the UK and the farm outflows are subject to a constant testing regime by the Environment Agency to ensure water quality. In contrast to sea cage and loch reared fish, ChalkStream® has a proven low impact on the surrounding water environment.
If you want to understand if the fish you're consuming is truly sustainable, we recommend The Good Fish Guide. Use the website or app to search a particular type of fish, and check if it's classed as sustainable (Green rated), can be sustainable but needs to be consumed with caution, depending on how and where it is caught, or is the least sustainable (Red rated) and should be avoided.