A Good Death?

Today the aquaponics class of 2016 takes to our local fishmonger’s the wonderful wonderful Fish Shop on Gloucester Road.

In what is usually our final commercial aquaponics class, we are confronting the endgame – the act of killing for food and after it, the mental shift from sacrifice to celebration – the aching beauty of preparing carefully that which you have nurtured for the platter.

This time Fishmonger and Business owner Dan is taking us through a variety of techniques for filleting fish – whilst explaining what he needs from product, what his customers are looking for, and the crucial question of course of for how much? – All this so that our students can begin to think ‘beyond the farm’ as an essential part of commercial  aquaponics training.

Concurrent to this in Cardiff on October 13th Dr Anne Galloway (visiting from Victoria University, NZ) will be asking us the question “What is a Good Death?” and examines the practices of on farm killing and the people involved in providing ‘care’ at the end of the road.

Estimates are around 80 Billion individual fish kills annually from farmed fish – however no one really knows just how many fish are killed every year – nor what proportion of that goes to waste. As Anne observes for livestock in general – The relative invisibility of farm animal death points to culture in conflict; Vialles (1994) has argued that consumers demand meat production “must be non-violent (ideally: painless); and it must be invisible (ideally: non-existent).”

As our first commercial tanks arrived on site last weekend, our art of nurturing begins to be defined. What was merely potential – and thus momentarily infinite, is suddenly bounded by our solid reality. Square tanks, shallow, 6 meters long, over a meter wide and 4 of them. What I can say is this – At Bristol Fish Project – like Anne’s research, we are in the midsts of the work of “staying with the trouble [of] living and dying together” (Haraway 2010).


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