Sustainable fish updates 2008
Sustain responded, robustly, to the FSA's long awaited consultation on its advice on fish consumption. We argued that, as the consultation failed to include any options that integrated sustainable development into the Agency's policy, it should be reissued with at least one more option that does include sustainable development. We are delighted that a number of organisations endorsed Sustain's response, based on our report on fish. Several other organisations also submitted comments along similar lines.
Good Catch Manual
Since its successful launch in September, the Good Catch Initiative, in which Sustain is a partner, has disseminated information about sustainable seafood through its monthly Fish Flash e-bulletins to over 1000 chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, suppliers and other interested parties. For more information about Good Catch, to sign up to Fish Flash or to order a copy of The Good Catch Manual – a rough guide to seafood sustainability for chefs, restaurateurs and caterers – see https://www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=289
MSC Chain of Custody Certification
Following the success of project officer Charlotte Jarman’s work with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to help four restaurants (The Duke of Cambridge, Konstam, Moro and Moshi Moshi) go through MSC Chain of Custody certification, all are now using the MSC logo on their menus when serving sustainable MSC fish. This project attracted good media coverage, and two training workshops for other restaurants and catering businesses interested in going through the certification process were conducted in July. A final case-study report of the Chain of Custody work with these restaurants has been published by the MSC (download 3.5Mb PDF).
Work continues on Good Catch, the joint initiative Sustain is working on with MSC, Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Seafood Choices Alliance (SCA) to encourage restaurants to serve more sustainable seafood. MSC and SCA ran a supplier briefing at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels. A Good Catch manual for chefs and restaurateurs will be published in September, and will include updated information from MCS on the sustainability of different fish stocks (this information will also be posted on http://www.fishonline.org/). Work is underway on a Good Catch website and a regular ‘Fish Flash’ e-bulletin. Good Catch will be officially launched on 16 September at Billingsgate Seafood Training School, with the event comprising an optional tour of the fish market, the launch of the manual, A rough guide to seafood sustainability workshop, and a sustainable seafood brunch.
A meeting of the Taking Stock group took place in early May and members continue to find the information exchange helpful, though the majority of the work is now taking place under the auspices of the Good Catch group. We are currently trying to obtain representation on a Defra stakeholder group on fisheries.
Sustainable fish in the public sector
Sustain project officer Rosie Blackburn met with the catering officres at St George’s mental health trust in London and spoke with their catering managers and head of facilities. The trust has been supported by Sustain as part of the Good Food on the Public Plate project to improve the healthiness and sustainability of their food. Since our previous visit we were delighted to find that they have, for example, removed unsustainable fish from the menu, and increased the amount of oily fish used in the catering operations.
Rosie and Zeenat Anjari, from Sustain's London Food Link, recently attended Camden Council’s Sustainability Taskforce meeting to offer guidance on their draft food policy which will go to the Council’s Executive for approval in May. The policy includes, among other things, recommendations for the council to procure fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Discussions continue with the borough’s Primary Care Trust about helping them implement the policy once it is adopted.
Chain of Custody certification for restaurants
Sustain's Greener Food project officer Charlotte Jarman has been working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to help a small group of London restaurants go through MSC Chain of Custody certification. The four restaurants (The Duke of Cambridge, Konstam, Moro and Moshi Moshi) were audited on 20th and 21st February, prior to which Charlotte conducted training sessions with staff at two of the restaurants. The audits went very smoothly and the restaurants will soon be able to use the MSC logo on their menus when serving sustainable MSC fish, following a very successful press launch on 16th April.
The joint initiative that Sustain is working on with the MSC, Seafood Choices Alliance and the Marine Conservation Society to encourage restaurants to serve and promote sustainable seafood has been christened “Good Catch: cooking for change, serving the future”. The Good Catch team met with Mark Askew, Gordon Ramsay’s executive chef, in February, to explore how we can help the restaurant group to make more sustainable choices when buying fish. Several high-profile chefs and restaurateurs (Geetie Singh of the Duke of Cambridge, Caroline Bennett of Moshi Moshi, Tom Aikens of new sustainable fish and chip shop Tom’s Place, and Peter Weeden of the Paternoster Chop House) have accepted invitations to join the Good Catch Advisory Group, and the group met for the first time in March.
The next Taking Stock group is likely to be scheduled for 9 May, following a meeting of the very active Good Catch group. One of the items on the agenda will be the long-awaited Food Standards Agency’s review of its advice on fish consumption. Both Sustain's policy director Kath Dalmeny and Sustain coordinator Jeanette Longfield have been involved in discussions with Agency officials, and attended a range of meetings. It appears that the official consultation document will not be issued until the autumn, such is the level of opposition this review has caused amongst parts of the seafood industry (and also, alarmingly, among parts of government it has clearly captured in its nets!)
Chain of Custody
Charlotte has continued to work with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to help a small group of London restaurants go through MSC Chain of Custody certification, so they can use the MSC logo on their menus when serving sustainable MSC fish. It is hoped that the restaurants will be audited in February 2008.
As well as the MSC, Charlotte is also working with the Seafood Choices Alliance and the Marine Conservation Society to encourage restaurants to serve and promote sustainable seafood. To develop her knowledge in this very complex area, Charlotte attended the Marine Conservation Society’s conference: ‘Future for Sustainable Seafood’ in November, and was awarded a bursary to go to the Seafood Summit being organised by Seafood Choices Alliance in Barcelona in January (see http://www.seafoodsummit.org/).
The Taking Stock group was convened on 6 December and had a fascinating presentation from the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, which is keen to work with public interest organisations on sustainable shellfish. There was also the usual very helpful exchange of information from the variety of organisations present. Currently, much of the follow up work to these meetings is being done via the Greener Food project, in the Charlotte’s work with partner organisations and smaller restaurants in London (see above). The next meeting of the Taking Stock group is likely to be in the Spring.