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London challenged to become world’s first Sustainable Fish City

11/01/2011

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London FoodRosie Boycott, Chair of London Food [1], has challenged citizens and businesses to make London the world’s first Sustainable Fish City.

“Taking a sustainable approach to fish is critical to the food security of our city,” said Rosie Boycott. “It is shocking to think that within our lifetimes, we could lose some of our favourite species from the seas forever. Everyone who buys food in London, whether as a consumer or a food business, can help secure a sustainable fish future.”

London has already taken the first steps to becoming a Sustainable Fish City. In 2009, the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games committed to using only sustainable fish in catering for the Games. [2] Following the Olympic lead, the Greater London Authority announced in December it would adopt the London 2012 food standards, including a commitment to sustainable fish. This will result in sustainable fish being served to London’s police, transport workers, the fire brigade and GLA staff. [3]

Today, several other major London organisations promised to help London become a Sustainable Fish City by pledging to specify sustainable fish in their catering contracts and to promote sustainable fish to their customers. [4] This includes the National Trust; five top London universities (City, Goldsmiths, Greenwich, Imperial College and SOAS); the D&D group of London restaurants; Moshi Moshi; Wahaca; the Duke of Cambridge gastropub; and one of the largest caterers in the UK, Sodexo, which provides food for public and private sector organisations, including many of London’s attractions such as the HMS Belfast, the Cabinet War Rooms and the Chelsea Flower Show. [5] To protect fish stocks and marine ecosystems, these have pledged to follow the campaign’s simple advice: “Exclude the worst, promote the best and improve the rest.”

“Londoners spend over £1 billion on fish every year, [6] which is a vital opportunity to invest in sustainable fishing practices and support those fishermen who are doing their best to protect precious fish and ocean environments,” said Jon Walker, coordinator of the Sustainable Fish City campaign, which is run by a team of food and conservation groups. [7] Sustainable Fish City will help London’s local authorities, schools, universities, caterers, shops and tourist attractions to serve sustainable fish, and London’s citizens to buy fish responsibly. The aim is for London’s boroughs and large food businesses, including fish suppliers, to serve sustainable fish by 2012. [8]

The Sustainable Fish City challenge comes on the day when a major new investigation is being launched by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsay into the plight of fish stocks, and what should be done to save fish for future generations to enjoy. Fish Fight, is a new Channel 4 television series calling on chefs, restaurants, caterers, food buyers and consumers to buy fish responsibly. [9]

For press enquiries, please contact Jon Walker or Kath Dalmeny, Sustainable Fish City, tel: 020 7065 0902; email: fish@sustainweb.org. See the Sustainable Fish City website at: www.sustainablefishcity.net

Notes for editors

  1. In September 2004 the Mayor of London established the London Food board to lead on food matters in the capital. Rosie Boycott was appointed as Chair of London Food to help improve Londoners' access to healthy, locally produced, sustainable and affordable food. See: http://www.london.gov.uk/londonfood/
  2. See the London 2012 catering commitment in their Food Vision (sustainable fish, p18): http://www.london2012.com/documents/locog-publications/food-vision.pdf
  3. Rosie Boycott announced this commitment at the 2010 Responsible Procurement Awards, see: http://www.sustainweb.org/news/gla_food_procurement/
  4. The Sustainable Fish City pledge (signed by these organisations) can be downloaded at: http://www.sustainweb.org/pdf/11/Sustainable_Fish_City_Pledge_1.pdf
  5. The list of organisations who have signed up in advance of the public launch are: http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/whos_working_on_it/
  6. Around £800m is spent by people in the London Metropolitan area, estimated from Office for National Statistics average yearly spend on fish and fish products by UK households, 2008/09, and data from the Marine Management Organisation on UK expenditure per person: http://marinemanagement.org.uk/fisheries/statistics/documents/ukseafish/2009/tables/4-1ab.xls. Given that Londoners spend more on eating out than other people in the UK, we estimate that expenditure on fish eaten outside the home brings the total to over £1 billion.
  7. Sustainable Fish City is run by a group of not-for-profit organisations working on sustainable seafood issues, listed at: http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/about/
    The group includes: Good Catch; Seafood Choices Alliance; Marine Conservation Society; Marine Stewardship Council; Pisces Responsible Fish Restaurants; Environmental Justice Foundation and Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming (which coordinates the campaign)
  8. Targets for declaring London the world’s first Sustainable Fish City are shown at: http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/fish_targets
    The campaign will aim to make significant progress on these targets by 2012, in time for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  9. Channel 4’s Fish Season starts on 11th January. For details of the Fish Fight series that launches the season, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, see: http://www.channel4.com/4food/on-tv/fish-fight-extras/hughs-fish-fight

Monty Halls

Our oceans are beautiful, precious habitats, and we must work together now to do everything we can to protect them.

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