Fish:  It’s a slippery issue.  And where better to confront it than in the NSW South Coast harbour hamlet of Ulladulla, host to the 2015 Slow Food Australia National Conference, August 20-23.

Ulladulla has a long fishing history. Aboriginals were featured fishing at Ulladulla Harbour in a sketch drawn in 1828. Many early pioneers of the area listed their occupation as fishermen in the late 1880s.  And trawler operators including members of the Greco, Puglisi, Salafia, Canon, Costa, Lavalle and Dunn families formed the Ulladulla Fisherman Co-operative in March 1956, staging the first Blessing of the Fleet when a crowd of 2,500 people watched the blessing and joined in the Italian community’s Family Picnic Day.  The Blessing of the Fleet Festival continues today.

But where to with sustainable fishing?  Our marine resources are not easy to understand. What state are our waters in?  What fish species are on the verge of extinction?  Can we influence the market?  Should we stop eating fish?  Should we stop fishing?

The Slow Food Australia National Conference, hosted by Slow Food Shoalhaven, will take a look at a lot of such fishy issues during the upcoming event in Ulladulla.

Slow Food’s international Slow Fish campaign promotes small-scale fishing and responsible fish consumption, working to inform people about the richness and fragility of the marine world so that consumers can make more informed choices and widen their choices beyond the most popular – and often overfished – species. The campaign invites consumers, chefs, academics and fishers to find local solutions that support better management of the sea’s resources.

Slow Food believes that small-scale fishers form an essential part of fragile aquatic ecosystems that must be protected along with the biodiversity of marine species. Slow Food promotes artisanal fishing and neglected fish species and works to inspire reflection on the state and management of the sea’s resources.

Participating in the Slow Fish discussions will be some of Australia’s leading industry professionals highlighting various aspects of sustainable fishing.

Academic and marine systems ecologist, Dr. Pia Winberg, Founder and Chief Scientist of Venus Shell Systems, will begin the discussions with her topic, Bio Food for the Shoalhaven.  Pia has been working across both industry development and academia for the past 15 years and has a background in marine systems ecology. Her main research interest is in marine food production systems that are sustainably integrated with the coastal and marine environment and her published research efforts span aquaculture and sustainable estuarine systems.  Pia has developed a focus on the development of seaweed cultivation systems for Australia. Australia is placed to contribute to the value adding of seaweed metabolites, species diversity and quality control systems from production to processing.

Joining Pia will be farmer, cook and television presenter, Matthew Evans, on sustainable fishing and Food labelling for Fish.  For nearly two decades, Matthew has been writing about food and more recently presenting a television show called Gourmet Farmer.  

A celebratory Slow Fish Dinner will be held at Rick Stein at Bannisters where Matthew Evans will talk on ‘Sustainable fish choices for Australia’ and oyster farmer, David Maidment, will discuss the Angasi Oyster.  David has a post graduate diploma of Aquaculture, is a Churchill Fellow and has been heavily involved in the oyster industry over the years, reintroducing the Ostrea angasi flat oysters to NSW.

The Slow Food Australia National Conference, hosted by Slow Food Shoalhaven, will be held in Ulladulla, August 20-23 2015.


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