Switch the fish, consumers urged
More than two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland are not adventurous enough to try alternative types of fish, according to new research.
Diners from the region are set in their ways when it comes to fish, with the survey revealing that almost 70% of people have never tried alternative species such as megrim.
Most people never stray from buying the "big five" - cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns.
Four out of five people are not meeting the Government guidelines of eating two portions of fish per week, according to the research carried out by Sainsbury's.
Reasons people have given to explain why they have been discouraged from eating fish include not knowing how to cook or prepare it correctly. More than half of those asked confessed that they do not know how to fillet a fish and almost one in five admitted not knowing how to cook fish correctly.
A number of high-profile campaigns have been launched to increase awareness of the issue and educate shoppers about a wider range of fish species. The latest is Sainsbury's Switch the Fish initiative, which first ran in 2011 and will take place across Northern Ireland to encourage people to try lesser-known species.
Its stores are set to offer free alternative fish to customers who ask for one of the "big five", which currently make up 80% of all the fish people in the UK consume.
As part of the campaign, Michelle O'Neill, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, is set to visit the Dungannon store to encourage customers to broaden their horizons. MEP Diane Dodds also plans to pay a visit to the Sprucefield store.
Also backing the campaign is UK Minster for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon. "Consumers and retailers like Sainsbury's have huge power through the choices they make to help us achieve healthy fish stocks and this is exactly the sort of initiative that will give people an incentive to buy differently in the future," he said.
In addition, for three weeks the supermarket chain will donate 5p from every pack sold of five alternative species to the Fisherman's Mission, a charity that offers support to fishermen and their families in times of crisis.