SUSTAINABLE FISH are proving an elusive catch in England’s primary schools with 86% of pupils missing out.
Kids are still finding it hard to find sustainable fish on their school dinner menus. According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), 86% of England’s primary school children “miss out” on responsibly sourced seafood. Of the 2,416 state-funded primary schools that serve certified sustainable fish in their canteens, 1,465 are in the north of England and the Midlands, while the combined figure for the south-west, south-east and London is 951. Just 42 of England’s 156 local education authorities have chosen MSC-certified supplies, with many of those 42 being represented by only one or two schools. The findings show the “dramatic differences” across the country (see map).
Toby Middleton, the UK senior country manager for the MSC, says 14% of England’s 16,784 primary schools currently provide a choice of certified sustainable fish in canteens, which means that 640,000 of the 4.3m children across these schools have access to sustainable seafood. Availability is expected to rise from next year when new school food standards become mandatory. However, the standards are vague in the commitments required, suggesting that school caterers “visit www. msc.org for advice on buying responsibly sourced fish” and buying food “in line with government buying standards” – these recommend choosing fish from verifiably sustainable sources. There are currently nine MSC-certified suppliers, including 3663 and Birds Eye Foodservice, while eight contract caterers including Caterlink, Eden Foodservice and Taylor Shaw offer MSC certification. The latter announced in May this year that pupils across the Durham LEA area in 217 schools are now being offered MSC fish once a week.