Northern Ireland Seafood Trails is an initiative of the Public Fisheries Commission, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
It is designed to “highlight Northern Ireland’s maritime and fishing heritage and encourage greater consumption of locally caught, farmed and sustainable seafood”.
A year after the successful launch of nine ‘port-hopping adventure maps’ across Northern Ireland in 2022, six new itineraries have been added for 2023, bringing the total to 15.
The new itineraries will take curious seafood explorers to: Derry, Karloff, Glenarm, Bangor, Grosport, Newcastle, Dundrum, Analong and three surrounding towns of Carlingford Lough; Greencastle, Rostrevor, and Warrenpoint.
Since its inception in 2022, Trails has encouraged both locals and visitors to enjoy the variety of seafood that Northern Ireland’s coastal towns and villages have to offer.
Sally Chamberlain, Regional Director for Northern Ireland at Seafish, explains why the new tracks are being created.
“We have created pathways to more local towns and villages as we want to get more families into the outdoors, explore and learn about our local relationship to seafood in Northern Ireland, support seafood restaurants and retailers, and gain a new perspective and appreciation for seafood.”
The first nine tracks were launched alongside talks and workshops delivered to eight primary schools in Northern Ireland, with 300 pupils taking part in interactive games and activities.
Mary Sammon, a teacher at Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, who took part in the workshops, said: “We all learned a lot about the fish that live in our coastline.
“I think we were all surprised by the amount of seafood we eat that comes from so far away.”
The initiative will offer 10 more educational workshops with primary schools this month.
Colorful trail maps allow families and visitors to see the Northern Ireland coast in a different light, highlighting the harbours, fishmongers, restaurants, museums and landmarks that define our local connection to seafood.
They feature illustrations by Northern Irish artist Pera Service, narrate the users’ journey and provide fascinating pieces of folklore and trivia as they take in the scenes.
They also include puzzles such as mazes, word searches, and scavenger hunts, as well as information about what seafood is available locally and when it’s in season.
Chamberlin adds that the maps attempt to debunk myths about seafood.
“We want families to feel inspired by and connect to local seafood in the same way they do with other food and beverage products that are grown or produced here,” she says.
“We found that the biggest obstacle to this is education.”
The new route maps will be available for pick up and follow from coastal towns and villages across Northern Ireland in late March, or they can be viewed or printed online here.