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Albert Adrià: "In 35 years, I’ve seen 15 species of octopus disappear"

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Legendary chef Albert Adrià returned to Food On The Edge festival to deliver a speech on the state of the sea’s depleting resources, how the food industry must work harder to protect against overfishing and create a culture where sustainability is as much a key ingredient as the fish itself.

Galway is a fitting location, on the edge of the Atlantic, for Adrià to call for a new approach to how chefs use fish.

Adrià suggested one word can be used to describe the reason chefs contribute intensive fishing and the unsustainable management of the sea’s resources and that’s ‘egotism’. That is, the desire of chefs to serve fish that they shouldn’t.

"There are 1000 ships fishing for octopus in Moroccan waters every day, because the Spanish are demanding more and more every day and they have nothing left. In 35 years, Albert has seen 15 species of octopus disappear," said Adrià. 

Adrià sited various initiatives in Spain and Belgium that are attempting to serve seafood in a responsible way. He also refered to three-starred Michelin chef Ángel León, who uses traditionally discarded fish species.

The chef has started an initiative called el Barri, a global, local and economically sustainable culinary project that includes six restaurants and six different concepts, all within 500 metres of each other.

Adrià claims tuna represents the greatest hypocrisy in terms of how we utilise our fish. 40 years ago, tuna wasn’t eaten in restaurants outside of the areas in which it was fished. Today, it’s a multi-million-dollar business.

Until recently the bonito, a similar fish to tuna, was much better thought of than tuna. When the chef went to the market with his mother, tuna was just another fish, you would simply buy a fillet. Where it was fished there was a better understanding of it, but then the Japanese arrived.

Watch the video above to hear more from the chef's speech at Food on The Edge

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