A NEW suite of trails have been launched which offer a journey of seafood discovery for anyone visiting Northern Ireland this year.
The Northern Ireland Seafood Trails are an initiative by the Seafish public body, with funding from Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs.
They are designed to “illuminate Northern Ireland’s maritime and fishing heritage and encourage greater consumption of domestically caught, and farmed, sustainable seafood”.
A year after the successful launch of nine ‘harbour-hopping adventure maps’ across Northern Ireland in 2022, six new trails have been added for 2023, bringing the total to 15.
The new trails will take inquisitive seafood explorers to: Derry, Carnlough and Glenarm, Bangor and Groomsport, Newcastle and Dundrum, Annalong and three towns surrounding Carlingford Lough; Greencastle, Rostrevor and Warrenpoint.
Since their debut in 2022 the trails have encouraged both locals and visitors to enjoy the diverse selection of seafood that the Northern Ireland’s coastal towns and villages have to offer.
Sally Chamberlain, Northern Ireland Regional Manager at Seafish, explains why new trails have been created.
“We have created trails of more local towns and villages as we want to get more families heading out in the fresh air, exploring and learning about our local connection with seafood in Northern Ireland, supporting seafood eateries and retailers, and gaining a new perspective and appreciation for seafood,” she said.
The first nine trails were launched alongside talks and workshops delivered to eight primary schools in Northern Ireland, where 300 pupils took part in interactive games and activities.
Mary Sammon, a teacher at Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, which participated in the workshops said: “We all learned so much about the fish that are native to our own coastline.
"I think we were all surprised by the amount of seafood we eat that comes from quite some distance away.”
The initiative will deliver a further 10 educational workshops with primary schools this month.
The colourful trail maps allow families and visitors to see the Northern Ireland coastline in a different light, highlighting the harbours, fishmongers, restaurants, museums and landmarks that define our local connection with seafood.
They feature illustrations by Northern Irish artist Piera Cierfice, narrate the users’ journey and offer up fascinating pieces of folklore and trivia as they take in the sights.
They also include puzzles such as mazes, word searches and scavenger hunts, as well as information about the seafood that’s available locally and when it’s in season.
Ms Chamberlain adds that the maps are trying to bust myths around seafood.
“We want families to feel inspired by and connected to local seafood in the same way they are with other food and drink products that are grown or produced here,” she says.
“We found that the biggest obstacle to this is education.”
The new trail maps will be available to pick-up and follow from coastal towns and villages across Northern Ireland in late March, or can be viewed or printed online here.