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Sales of fish treble as shoppers keep up Good Friday tradition

THE Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Good Friday appears to be holding up as fish sales trebled this week.

Fishmongers and processing plants both confirmed sales of seafood increased dramatically.

"We have had our busiest week ever this year with fresh fish sales very strong," said Ken Ecock, director of Dunns of Dublin, Ireland's oldest fish company, dating back to 1822.

"People are still traditionally in the mindset that they should eat fish on Good Friday."

The church has traditionally observed abstinence from meat on Friday. Yet, the rule of abstinence does not mention fish as a substitute. This is believed to have evolved culturally over many years.

Mr Ecock said sales on Good Friday were around three times the level sold on a normal Friday. "This week we have been operating 24 hours in both plants all week in order to cope with demand," he said.

Health

"Generally people are moving back to the fish counters. They are looking for the expertise of people on the fish counters to tell them how to cook the fish," he added.

There was a steady stream of customers going through Nicky's Plaice on the west pier in Howth, Co Dublin yesterday.

Martin McLoughlin, the owner, said sales were still higher on a Friday. "People are now eating fish all week long, but Friday would still be the mainstay," he said. "It would have come from the old tradition of eating fish."

He said in recent years more people were realising the value of fish, which had been long embraced by our European neighbours for its added health benefits.

Fishmongers say Irish shoppers tended to be conservative with their seafood purchases, with salmon continuing to be the most popular, followed by cod, haddock and plaice.

Households served up €182m worth of seafood in the first eight months of last year -- down 5pc on the same period in 2010, according to the latest Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) figures.

Irish Independent