International Fisheries Experts Introduced to Lao Fish Larb

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FAO journey to make fish larb

A 55-second video recipe for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s ever-popular Larb (or Laab) made with Mekong River fish and prepared by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations staff including country representative Nasar Hayat showed at a global fisheries conference in Rome, Italy on Wednesday.

Featuring the popular dish, the video shot in the Lao capital Vientiane was among 15 from around the world and the only example chosen from the ASEAN region to be shown to attendees at the 34th session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI).

Utilizing mobile phones and limited time, COFI34 invited all FAO staff to share their personal fish food experiences and culinary adventures, inspiring people to reflect on the wisdom of fishing communities with some 15 selected.

 

Now on the FAO’s COFI website (http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/cofi/fishfoodexperience) and via Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A20Mnhl0KZE&feature=youtu.be), the video shot by the Mekong River in the Lao capital Vientiane shows a way to prepare Lao fish larb.  

COFI conference attendees were informed that Larb is a type of salad that is regarded as the unofficial national dish of Laos. Variations of the dish are also popular among the ethnic Lao people of neighboring countries and can be enjoyed with many kinds of meat including fish. A popular choice for this meal is the endemic fish species known in the Lao language as (Pa kheung) Hemibagrus wyckiodes found in the Mekong River.

In Lao PDR and worldwide, people eat fish because they like the taste and texture or its nutritional benefits. From catching it or buying it at a market stall, and then preparing, cooking it and sinking our teeth into something that’s succulent and tasty is a total experience. Yet eating fish is not just about taste and nutrition.

Fish consumption tells us a lot about social and cultural practices, and it often reinforces the ties between ourselves, our communities. Consuming fish or fish products is a way to strengthen social ties. From catch to table, fish can be part of a specific cultural identity or a habit that makes people feel at home.

A subsidiary body of the FAO Council, COFI was established by the FAO Conference in 1965. COFI is a unique body in that it provides periodic global recommendations and policy advice to governments, regional fishery bodies, civil society organizations, and actors from the private sector and international community. It is the only global inter-governmental forum where FAO Members meet to review and consider the issues and challenges related to fisheries and aquaculture.

The Committee has fostered the development and adoption of several binding agreements as well as non-binding instruments that have reshaped how the sector works in the interests of resource sustainability (including biodiversity conservation).

Held from February 1-5, COFI 34 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, a key instrument that has been guiding the drive towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture around the world. The 25th anniversary comes at a challenging time as climate change, biodiversity loss, unregulated practices and increased competition for the use of marine, inland and coastal areas are threatening aquatic ecosystems and their precious resources.

The Committee is set to table a Declaration for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, for possible adoption. The Declaration outlined a vision of how aquatic natural resources can be used more sustainably and effectively, to attain food security and nutrition.

By seeking science-based solutions, technological innovation, value chain developments and free market access, as well as safe and decent working conditions for all actors in the sector, the Declaration lays the basis for a global vision for the transformation of blue ecosystems, as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key topics on the COFI agenda include the current state of fisheries and aquaculture, the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, aquaculture biosecurity and sustainable growth, the role of small-scale fisheries and the livelihood of coastal communities, as well as illegal fishing and fish operations at sea.

Find the recipe here: Lao Fish Larb (Lao Fish Salad).