LONDONS CATERERS and chefs must use their buying power to make the capital the worlds first ever sustainable fish city.
Some have already taken the initiative, but there is a responsibility across the whole foodservice industry to be experts and teachers in sustainability issues.
The call came from Raymond Blanc (pictured) at an event organised by the Sustainable Fish City campaign at Fishmongers Hall in London. Participants included Michelin-starred chefs, independent restaurant owners, some of the UKs largest restaurant and pub chains, policymakers, fish sustainability experts and fishermen. The aim was to discuss how to use the power of the restaurant and catering industry to transform the market for sustainable fish, and practical support needed to achieve this.
Blanc recognised the huge advances being made already, for example by those that had removed endangered species from menus and started paying attention to where and how their farmed prawns are produced. He also applauded those who support smaller and sustainable fishers and promote fish from sustainably managed fisheries such as those accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council (www.msc.org).
However, he said more could be done, and urged the hospitality industry to act now using its buying power to ensure change.
Todays chef is not only a craftsman, he also needs to be a teacher, a transmitter of values and an expert in sustainability issues and, of course, he needs to make money. It is a tough ask. Welcome to the new world. Actually all this is really to the good for chefs are now reconnecting with the true values of gastronomy.
He added: This Sustainable Fish Forum has been extraordinary. We have a roomful of restaurateurs, hoteliers and group owners who are willing to listen and want to bring sustainability to their kitchens and restaurants. This tells us that the world is changing, that chefs are an emerging force to lead us towards better fishing practices and better sustainability.
Also speaking at the event, EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Maria Damanaki, paid tribute to the attendees and the campaign: The Sustainable Fish City initiative in London is a perfect example on how you are driving change in the world towards better and more tasty menus.
Guests also heard from the Marine Stewardship Council on the increasing range of certified sustainable seafood now available, and from the conservation science organisation, the Marine Conservation Society, which likened putting the endangered Atlantic Halibut on a menu as the environmental equivalent of serving up Panda. Chefs also learned about the practicalities of serving sustainable fish from SeaWebs Seafood Choices who presented practical tips and guidance from the Good Catch initiative to help chefs buy the right fish and engage staff and customers.
Delegates then discussed the success, barriers and solutions to buying and serving sustainable fish.
Jon Walker, coordinator of the Sustainable Fish City campaign, said: It is wonderful and heartening to see so many businesses dedicate time to discuss how they can protect our precious marine resources.
Raymond Blancs speech can be read here: www.raymondblanc.com/BLOGS/A-Sustainable-Future-for-Fish-.aspx
Commissioner Maria Damanakis speech can be read at: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/damanaki/headlines/speeches/2012/01/20120124_speech_en.htm