Ulster University host The Fish & Seafood in Health Research Group 

The Fish and Seafood in Health (FISH) research group within the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) at Ulster, are involved in a program of research exploring the factors influencing fish consumption in young children in Northern Ireland and how consumption of fish can be encouraged in this age group. In order to help showcase this research, and to help educate the public on the benefits of eating fish, we sought support from Connected NI to host two events.  

As part of these activities, we reached out to local and national marine industry contacts, those working in the promotion of seafood for health and included colleagues from the School of Geography and Environmental Science within Ulster University.

A successful one-day event was held in September 2023 on the Coleraine campus: ‘Fish, Seafood and Health: A Roundtable Symposium’. This event brought together various stakeholders to discuss challenges facing the seafood sector across the whole island of Ireland, but focused on the most significant challenge of ‘Why are we not eating more fish?’.

In alignment with the Connected programme, the overall aim was to foster inter-disciplinary collaboration between FE and industry, and to improve knowledge transfer. Attendees and speakers included those from government bodies of DAERA, the Food Standards Agency, Public Health Agency and Food Safety Authority Ireland; agencies such as Seafish, the Marine Industry, Bord Iascaigh Mara; seafood industries including local seafood restaurants and researchers from Ulster, AFBI and the Atlantic Technological University (ATU)

Following on from the success of our September event, we hosted a public event at this year’s NI Science Festival ‘Fish for Families’, as a collaborative activity between NICHE and the School of Geography and Environmental Science along with four external organisations: Seasource, Seafish and STEMNI. This event attracted over 80 attendees on the day, with local chef Paula McIntyre being the main attraction. The aim of this informal event was to engage with the public on how to prepare and cook healthy meals using fish, to encourage fish consumption and to raise awareness about sustainability. While Paula McIntyre was running the cookery demonstrations, there were fish-focused craft activities for children, informal discussions with Ulster staff, with take-home leaflets promoting our teaching and research. NICHE staff (Dr Maria Mulhern, Dr Alison Yeates, and Dr Philip Allsopp) and PhD students (Berienis Muki, James McMullan & Graeme Duncan) were on hand to discuss the health benefits of eating fish at all life stages, whilst Dr Chris McGonigle from the School of Geography and Environmental Science discussed issues of sustainability facing the fishing industry in NI and the role of consumer choices. Sally Chamberlain of Seafish, a public body supporting the UK fishing industry, attended to promoting the local NI Seafood Trails and Seasource to demonstrate novel equipment used in sustainable fishing locally.

These activities have been so valuable to our research group in building and strengthening collaborative seafood links across the island of Ireland, which we are sure will enhance the impact of our mutual research and industry activities. We wish to thank Connected NI for their funding and support which made it possible to host these events.