Restaurateurs are being encouraged to join an Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) campaign supported by a number of chefs including Anna Hansen and Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and Andrew Fairlie which is designed to help end illegal or 'pirate' fishing.
In celebration of World Oceans Day earlier this month and to highlight a UN conference on sustainable development in Brazil which kicks off on 20 June, leading chefs and restaurants will be asking their diners to contribute £1 to support the EJF's work on sustainable fishing.
The campaign, which will run throughout the month, has signed up a number of restaurants including those headed up by Michelin-starred chefs Nuno Mendes, Tom Kitchin and Tom Aikens.
Now the environmental charity is encouraging other chefs to back the project by getting their restaurants on board or finding out more information on the impact of serving fish caught or farmed from illegal, unreported and unregulated 'pirate' fishing.
"The impact of having leading restaurants and chefs supporting our actions can be far reaching and profound, helping to build sustainability from net to plate," EJF executive director Steve Trent told BigHospitality.
"We have a lot more people asking about sustainability but we educate our staff about what we do and where we buy our fish from and why. They then let people know - not by preaching but when they talk about the food they introduce that concept and people really appreciate it," Canadian-born Anna Hansen told BigHospitality.
Hansen's Clerkenwell restaurant The Modern Pantry is one of the thirteen to have already signed up to the EJF campaign. The chef admitted the situation on sustainably-sourced fish would not improve until mass operators also came on board but said restaurants like The Modern Pantry had a responsibility to educate others.
"They are going to have to become more involved but that is really only going to be as a result of consumer demand because the Government is not prepared to legislate and there isn't enough pressure from the authorities. Money talks so when people stop buying something then that is when businesses behave differently and then that has to filter down," she said.
The EJF says according to 2010 estimates around 10 per cent of European seafood imports could have been illegally caught; a situation that can destroy marine habitats or endangered wildlife.
Restaurateurs face, Hansen said, a difficult time sometimes in knowing which fish to serve and which to not in order to aid sustainable methods. "It is really easy to jump on a bandwagon of 'don't eat this kind of fish'. For example with cod there are areas where it is in plentiful supply but yet you are not allowed to fish it because apparently there is a shortage in the seas."
"That is where being educated becomes important. Tuna is across the board bad and we never put it on our menu and I am really surprised when I see it," Hansen concluded.
Diner donations to the EJF will fund investigations to the impact of illegal fishing and restaurants looking to get involved are advised to contact the foundation direct - www.ejfoundation.org .