Enjoy the Fish Experience with All Your Senses

“I congratulate the Central Fish Market, Mercabarna management and the other organisations involved in the CIP. At this difficult time, you are investing in a project of the future, which aims to teach young people the values of following a balanced diet that must necessarily include fish.” With these words of acknowledgement, the Catalan Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Action, Joaquim Llena, began his speech at the opening event of the Interactive Fish Centre.

The occasion drew a significant representation of institutions, collaborating organisations, representatives of wholesale dealers from central markets in other Spanish cities and sector businesspeople, who had the chance to gain first-hand knowledge about this groundbreaking centre, created “to promote familiarity with regard to fishery products, particularly among children but also their families and other groups such as the elderly, consumer associations, universities and so on,” said the Chair of the Wholesale Dealers’ Association, Leandre Serra. Such knowledge is greatly needed, the General Secretary of the Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (FROM) Isabel Hernández said, as “many children reach school age knowing practically nothing about fish and not being used to eating it”. Ms Hernández said projects like the CIP were important “because they can help change this situation”.

The purpose of the project and its original style of presentation has seen it win the backing of many public institutions (including the Government of Catalonia, the European Fisheries Fund, the Spanish Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, FROM and the Municipal Markets Institute) and private bodies (the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, the Mediterranean Diet Foundation, the Fishmongers’ Association of Catalonia, La Caixa, Bon Preu, Sorli Discau, the National Association of Fish Wholesalers at Municipal Markets, the Cabo Cruz Association of Mussel Producers and the Norwegian Seafood Export Council). It is an example of public/private sector collaboration which, according to the Deputy Mayor at Barcelona City Council and Chair of Mercabarna Jordi William Carnes is “a successful way to implement initiatives such as this, particularly at a difficult time”.

The CIP was also established with the aim of extending beyond the Central Fish Market and has established the goal of using this experience as a reference point for the creation of a network of Interactive Fish Centres in different Spanish cities.

Take a Plunge into the World of Fish
The 220-m2 facility (the land was granted by Mercabarna to build on) affords visitors the chance to learn all about the stages fish undertake, from the time they are caught through to when they reach the consumer, emphasising the nutritional values that make fish and seafood an indispensable part of a healthy, balanced diet.
The facility’s draw card is not just its content but the way it is presented. A visit to the CIP is an experience for all the senses. The smells, textures, sight, flavours, sounds and a number of interactive games play a fundamental role in the visit, where the public is encouraged to learn about the different types of fishing, where fishery products come from, how to distinguish the smells of different fish and how to remove their spines and cook them.

The intensely rewarding visit, led by a friendly crab (a character designed especially for schoolchildren who visit the centre) begins by revealing the fishery arts and the activity carried out in ports and fish markets. Visitors are then taken to Mercabarna’s Central Fish Market, where they can see the work the wholesalers do and the different origins of the products that pass through this great Market.

The recreation of a municipal market fish stand welcomes visitors to the area dedicated to retail trade. Here, various games can be played that explain the work done at the sales points and which emphasise aspects such as how to store fish and seafood so they keep well and the smells that indicate they are fresh.

Once they have done their ‘purchases’ in the “Fish at Home” areas, visitors learn the various ways of cutting, cleaning and cooking fish and seafood. Finally, the last room in the visit is dedicated to the Mediterranean Diet, its values, the products that form the food pyramid and the role fish plays in a healthy diet.

Campaign to Promote the Consumption of Fishery Produce
The Interactive Fish Centre is one of the tools in the “Grow Up with Fish” campaign, the educational programme the Wholesale Dealers’ Association will open in September aimed at children aged 8 to 11. As well as the visit to the CIP, the campaign will also involve a trip to the Central Fish Market facilities and the CIP’s handling areas which, although not yet up and running, will enable the children to get an idea of the scale of the work carried out at the Market in the early hours of the morning. They will also visit a seafood farm and a fish-handling business. The trip to Mercabarna will end with a lunch where the children can sample different types of fish and seafood. Around 6,000 children are expected to take part in the campaign each year.
For further information on the CIP project and the “Grow Up with Fish” campaign, see: www.cipmercabarna.org or www.centreinteractiudelpeix.org