Marara Murray-Haig, who helps manage the Free Fish Heads website, explains: “Thousands of Kiwi fishers dump their unwanted fish heads and frames, and thousands of Kiwis would love to eat them. We simply put the two groups together.”

The website was established by Matt Watson, host of The ITM Fishing Show, with the aim of reducing waste and conserving fish.

“A family gets a bin full of fish heads for free,” Marara says. “That may fulfil their fish needs for the week, so perhaps they won’t go and set a net in the estuary, or go to the market and buy fish that may have been caught in a destructive trawl net. Each extra meal gained reduces the need to take more from the sea.”

Kaeo resident Tasha Davis has used the site to get fish heads several times. “The first time we used it I had all my children with me and we were all so excited when Matt called up. He arrived with a bin-load of fish heads and it was just fantastic.”

What does she do with the fish heads?

“If it’s snapper or kahawai or mullet, I like to boil it with celery and onions. I also like to bake them with cream, tomatoes, chillies, onions, ginger and garlic. If it’s bluenose, I like to smoke it.

“I’ve got a lot of kids that come over and they don’t like eating the eyes or the brains, but they like eating the meat, so we separate that for them. And you can make fish pie or fish’n’chips if you get a big head…”

If you’re a fisher with heads to spare or a cook with mouths to feed, visit the Free Fish Heads website to register.

See some of Tasha's recipes.

Reported for our AA Directions Summer 2013 issue

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