Marine Drive: Know Your Fish Tells You Which Seafood Is Safe To Eat In Which Month
As a city that’s passionate about seafood, we should be deeply concerned about the health of India’s west coast. It’s well known that Mumbai has one of the most polluted coasts in the world and that fish populations here have been severely depleted because of dirty waters and overfishing. Perhaps reality will only swim home once Bombay Duck goes off the menu.
Three marine biologists are, in a small way, attempting to spread the practice of eating seafood responsibly to stave off just such an eventuality. In April, Pooja Rathod, Mayuresh Gangal and Chetana Purushottam, all alumni of the post graduate programme in wildlife biology and conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society and National Centre for Biological Sciences, both in Bangalore, began Know Your Fish, a site that lists the best times to eat 25 commercially important types of seafood. For 2017, they’ve put together monthly calendars listing the fish that should be avoided and those that are safe to eat. These apply only to the west coast. For instance, in May they suggest staying off barramundi, kingfish, squid, pomfret and tiger prawn. It’s more sensible to have Bombay Duck, mackerel, Indian oil sardine and ladyfish this month.
They recommend that you abstain from eating a particular seafood while that variety is breeding. This allows marine life to mature. The other factor they consider is “collateral damage control”. This means eschewing fish along with which other marine life is caught by default. As the site explains, sharks that breed in March, April and May are invariably caught in the nets of fishermen seeking seer fish. If seer aren’t harvested during these three months, then sharks will have a chance to breed. The suggestions are based on studies published by the Central Marine Fisheries Resource Institute, which is headquartered in Kochi.
“The idea of Know Your Fish evolved during a conversation with our senior Nandini Velho in 2014 [when] we discussed the importance of hotels adapting to a fish-friendly/ocean-friendly menu,” Rathod said in an email interview. Rathod, who’s from Pune, and Gangal, who’s from Mumbai, are currently working on a research project in Lakshadweep; Bangalore native Purushottam is studying coral reefs in the Andaman Islands. Gangal is the only one of the three to eat seafood, his colleagues are vegetarian.
The trio have been trying to get restaurants in Goa and Mumbai to follow their calendars. The first to take up their time tables was Jamshed Madon, who runs J&A’s Little Italy in Baga in Goa. Mum’s Kitchen in Panjim followed suit. In Mumbai, they’ve got Melting Pot in Juhu, Sarovar Hotels, which runs five properties across the city, and Goa Portuguesa and Diva Maharashtracha in Mahim on board.
Home page image by Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons.