When Ben King was living in Japan as a teenager, his parents would take him to Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. It’s famous for its daily auctions, particularly the one on New Year’s day when the sale of a giant tuna makes the national and international news.
Once caught, the fish bound for Tsukiji is handled with such care, that they arrive in the market still alive. It is only when a fish is bought that the market traders take them out of tanks of running water and kill them in a method to preserve the quality of the produce called Ike-Jime.
“Tsukiji calibrated my perspective. Seeing the appreciation for quality and the respect for the produce was such a contrast to anything I had seen before,” says King. “In the U.K., you go to a supermarket and see fish on a slab that is sometimes two weeks old. It smells disgusting. Why is fish treated so rubbish here when we are surrounded by 19,000 miles of coastline?”
It was while researching the answer that the idea of Pesky Fish — a reinvention of the seafood supply chain to create a more sustainable industry for fish, fishermen and consumers — began to emerge.
King started to test some ideas with fishermen in Hastings and Jersey in May 2017.
“We said ‘tell us what you’ve caught’ and we will use it to generate a better market,” he says, having given the fishermen phones to call their catch into land. But they were either not prepared to make the effort without an incentive or the logistics were not in place to deliver.
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