/ Sustainable seafood / Fish and Kids: bringing sustainability to Britain’s classrooms

Fish and Kids: bringing sustainability to Britain’s classrooms

Stefanie Siebels, Fish and Kids
The MSC's Fish and Kids team hit the road to raise awareness of ocean health in UK primary schools.
Stefanie Siebels on January 29, 2016 - 2:27 pm in Sustainable seafood
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Late in 2015, two of MSC UK’s Fish and Kids team – Stefanie and Tilda – visited 13 primary schools and over 2,500 children. They wanted to illustrate the connection between ‘Fish and Chips Friday’ school lunches and the protection of our oceans. Stefanie tells us about their 6 week tour…

When they came into the hall and saw a banner depicting an ocean scene with different fish the kids sensed this was no ordinary assembly. It might seem odd to talk about fish first thing in the morning but there was a logic to our plan. We wanted the themes of fishing and ocean health to ‘follow’ the children through the day.

Children identifying fish species

Children identifying fish species ©MSC / T Moore

Glad to be doing something different, the children happily started guessing when asked to identify different species. With these interactive assemblies, alongside fish-themed lunchtimes and special lessons for one class in each school, we successfully managed to illustrate the journey of their food “from ocean to plate”.

Kids and sustainable fish

These kids realised that they can play an active role with the choices they make as consumers. They learned about the importance of fish as a vital source of food for people all around the world, and how many of those people rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods.

When we asked the children how we can ensure we have enough fish for the future, we were surprised and pleased to see many already knew about the concept of sustainability.

Bringing props to show examples of different fishing gear and how they are being used by fishermen went down particularly well. The children acted out being fishermen and fish, and we showed them how fishers reduce bycatch by scaring away seabirds with ribbons above their nets.

Meet the MSC’s mascot, Murdock the cat

At lunchtimes we worked with school caterers ISS Education and Caterlink, who handed out fishy tasters. However, it was MSC mascot, Murdock the fisherman’s cat, who really helped children connect the topics of the assembly with what they were eating. And even the most sceptical pupils were on board when they learned they’d receive a sticker for trying something new.

Murdock on tour with Fish and Kids

Murdock the MSC mascot

Food education and the national curriculum

Food education is an increasingly important part of the curriculum in the UK. The schools on our tour often use Fish and Kids activities to link into wider school projects related to food, its provenance and sustainability.

Being high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids fish is fantastic food and it’s great to see it as a staple in school lunches. And helping children understand where their food comes from and how to protect vital resources is an essential step in protecting the future of our favourite fish dinners. The choices we make have a direct impact upon marine sustainability and we believe our visits from Fish and Kids really helped in making children understand this.

Our visits to schools in areas close to the sea, where fishing is such an important part of the economy, were especially relevant and well received. In general, the knowledge and understanding these children had about fishing, species and the marine ecosystem was already outstanding and we hoped to simply build on this.

On the back of our visit, one of them, Preston Primary School, appointed 12 pupils as “The Guardians”. They would take part in five special workshops about ocean sustainability and responsible citizenship before sharing their newly acquired wisdom with their classmates.

Kids enjoying MSC certified fish

©MSC / T Moore

Tilda and I were extremely pleased with what Fish and Kids on Tour achieved and will hopefully see many other schools interested in receiving a visit from Murdock and the MSC in 2016.

For schools interested in running some ocean, fishing and marine sustainability related activities by themselves, the Fish and Kids website offers great educational resources teachers can use and we always welcome pictures of the great stuff schools come up with.

For more information contact the MSC’s Fish and Kids Team on kids@msc.org
(Tel: 020 7246 8916).

Stefanie Siebels

Stefanie Siebels is MSC UK's Commercial Officer. In addition to coordinating the MSC’s education program, Fish and Kids, she works with the UK’s education catering sector in promoting MSC certified sustainable seafood on school menus, in universities and other educational institutions.

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