The release of The End of the Line, the world`s first major documentary about the effect of over-fishing puts fish suppliers and fish restaurants under the spotlight. BigHospitality speaks to some to find out what they are doing to reassure diners that the fish they are serving is sustainable.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Restaurants that source sustainable seafood can apply for MSC certification, an eco-label that restaurateurs can print on their menus to give diners peace of mind when ordering.
James Simpson, spokesperson for the MSC, said: “The MSC label is a very simple way to show your customers that the fish they are eating is sustainably sourced. Essentially, it is like having your own team of independent scientists looking into the stock levels, environmental impact and management of the fishery and - only after an extensive piece of research - giving you the all-clear on the fish you are about to eat. All of that research and the complete ocean-to-plate traceability comes packaged in the MSC logo.
“Now that everywhere you buy fish claims sustainable sourcing, those restaurants and caterers that go the extra step and prove it is sustainable will win out.”
The seafood supplier that works alongside Brakes foodservice is an ambassador for under-utilised species. The only tuna it supplies caterers with is line and pole caught yellowfin from the waters surrounding Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Cornish albacore, which is also line-caught.
James Bristow, marketing manager at M&J Seafood, said the company has always worked hard to source both tuna and other species of fish sustainably.
"At M&J Seafood we have a self imposed ban on bluefin tuna, and this means we never have and never will sell it," he said. "We are totally committed to responsible sourcing and supply of the best of the world’s catch from well-managed and sustainable fisheries. We source products within UK and international regulatory guidelines, while maintaining our commitment to actively promote greater variety and under-utilised species."
3G Seafood Solutions
MSC-accredited 3G Seafood Solutions says it is `wholly committed` to the ethical sourcing of all wild-capture and farmed fish, which it gets from sustainable and responsibly managed sources. It only sells yellowfin tuna and a high percentage of its stock comes from the UK such as line-caught Cornish sardines and farmed rainbow trout from Hampshire or from farms abroad.
"Our huge network of global and local fish and seafood sources provides us with access to an enormous range of species and alternative choices to those fish and seafood currently classed as endangered, or which are fished or farmed using environmentally destructive techniques,"it says.
3G says responsibly and sustainably sourced fish doesn`t mean a lack of choice when it comes to menu planning.
"In fact, the great diversity that exists in the fish and seafood market provides fantastic opportunities to promote alternative species to an ever-more receptive and enlightened consumer, who is often acutely aware of the threats that exist to species and stocks around the world."
3G advises restaurants to take a proactive approach to only using sustainable species and clearly marketing them as such on menus.
It says: "It can reap rewards in terms of increased loyalty from existing consumers and new custom. It demonstrates not only specialist knowledge of great fish and seafood for eating, but also an understanding of and respect for the critical issues that the species and the market face. Importantly, it also visibly demonstrates that your business is actively contributing to the solution."
Robin Rowland of Yo Sushi said having seen the film at a special screening the issue was `top` of his mind, but said that Yo Sushi has sourced all fish from reputable suppliers and would never supply any species on the IUCN Red List.
"We only buy from sustainable sources and we only use line-caught yellowfin tuna. We don’t sell bluefin tuna and we never have done," he says.
The company says its fisheries operate to Earth Island Institute standards and the Scottish salmon it uses is harvested from farms with pens containing a ratio of 2 per cent fish to 98 per cent sea water and each pen is left to fallow for a minimum of one year after harvesting.
Loch Fyne Restaurants
The 49-strong restaurant group source all their seafood from designated sustainable stocks through sister company Loch Fyne Oysters, ensuring they are able to tell their diners where their fish was caught, and by whom.
Mark Derry, managing director of Loch Fyne restaurants, said: “We need to preserve the world`s fish stocks - we’d be mad to be the ones that sell the last cod in the world given that we have a business that heavily relies on it.
“We teach our staff about sustainable fishing and the source of our products during their induction and at intervals throughout the year, so they can pass such information on to our customers.
“We believe there’s a good argument that you shouldn’t eat tuna at all. Bluefin tuna is not sustainable, and neither are other species to a certain extent, so we make our statement pretty straight forward and don’t sell any tuna in our restaurants at all.”
Chef Nathan Outlaw, who opened his second restaurant - Seafood & Grill - in Cornwall at the beginning of the month, said chefs serving locally-caught fish from fishmongers they trust should continue to do so without fear of contributing to stocks running out.
He said: "Looe fish market where I get my fish is a day caught fishing market and fishermen go out with the tide. We only use local line-caught fish.
"It is a shame when you see restaurants that use stuff they shouldn`t be using. For Japanese restaurants the secret of their success is fresh tuna, so they are different, but generally, if you`re a British restaurant there`s no reason not to serve fish caught in our seas. People will pay for a good piece of fish whatever the price if they know it has been caught that day off the coast you`re on.
"I`m passionate about fish and seafood and spend an almost anoraky amount of time learning and talking about it. I like sea fishing too and see it first hand and if you serve fish it`s a good idea to learn as much about it."
For more information on sustainable fish varieties visit www.fishonline.org