THE NUMBER OF BRITISH RESTAURANTS choosing to serve sustainable seafood and dropping fish from overfished stocks has increased dramatically over the last two years.
More than 45% of restaurants improved their rating in the first re-review of British restaurants by Fish2fork (www.fish2fork.com), the campaigning fish restaurant guide, since it was launched in 2009.
Among them are some of the biggest names in cuisine, including Scotts in Londons Mayfair and Raymond Blancs Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire, but also locally recognised restaurants, such as the Porthminster Beach Café in St Ives.
Of the 443 restaurants Fish2fork has re-reviewed since the 2009 launch, more than two improved their rating for every one that slipped backwards. In all, 202 restaurants (45%) improved their rating, 89 (20%) got worse and 152 (34%) remained the same.
This huge leap towards the use of sustainably-caught seafood in the restaurant industry in just two years is regarded as an unprecedented advance and the surveys results are believed to be the first firm evidence of changing attitudes and priorities in the restaurant sector.
Charles Clover, founder of the Fish2fork website and author of The End of The Line (www.endoftheline.com), said to get 45% of restaurants improving their scores in two years is a phenomenal figure.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall added: [Fish2fork] is independent and uncompromising and by putting us restaurateurs on the spot makes fish sustainability an issue we cant ignore without the risk of losing business. I also have a hunch that F2Fs clever rating system is getting a response by tapping into the competitive nature of some of our top chefs.
Fish2fork rates restaurants on the basis of the sustainability of the seafood species they serve (see the page on our ratings system), and the quantity and quality of the information they provide to their customers.
Ratings range from 4.5 blue fish, the highest yet awarded, to 5 red fish. It is theoretically possible to be awarded a 5 blue fish rating but no one has done it yet.
There are also 97 restaurants getting their first score and of these 8 including Harbour Lights, a local chippie in Falmouth - achieved the highest rating awarded so far of 4.5 blue fish. A second local chippie, The Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, was awarded 4 blue fish, the second highest rating, illustrating that it is perfectly possible for traditional fish and chip restaurants to match top London restaurants such as The Ivy in sustainability.
See Octobers Foodservice Footprint for an analysis of the looming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.