We started our green journey in earnest in February 2006, when we made a commitment to our valued customers that we would only serve them fish that we had sourced from proven sustainable fisheries, so they could eat totally guilt free!
See the Harbour Lights website at: www.harbourlights.co.uk
Why do you think sustainable seafood is important for the Fish and Chip sector?
The Fish and Chip industry, which comprises of at least 8,500 shops in the UK provides the ultimate comfort food. The world can go crazy but it’s amazing how good you can feel after a tasty fish and chip supper. Fish and Chips are in the DNA of the country and it is imperative that the industry has a non-threatened rosy future, with plenty more fish in the sea!
What have you done to advance seafood sustainability – what successes or challenges have you had?
1. Gather Information to understand the sustainability of seafood you currently serve
It’s good to talk to a range of people. We speak at length regularly with fishermen, wholesalers, Seafish and also marine conservation organisations, including the Marine Conservation Society, Marine Stewardship Council, SeaWeb, Fish2Fork, Sustainable Restaurant Association, Hugh’s Fish Fight and Prince Charles’s International Sustainability Unit.
2. Source sustainably by choosing to: Avoid the Worst (e.g. rated as 5 by MCS), Promote the Best (e.g. certified sustainable by MSC or rated 1 or 2 by MCS), Improve the Rest (e.g. rated 3 or 4 by MCS)
We follow the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) grading advice available at www.fishonline.org, and never sell fish rated 5 and we permanently try to lower the ratings of all the fish we sell. In fact, we have also committed to always have 2 Marine Stewardship Certified (MSC) fish on our menu.
3. State your commitment with a publicly available policy
Our extensive fish buying policy is available to read both in our takeaway and restaurant and also on our website. This is reviewed every 6 months, and we are currently on version
4. Communicate clearly with customers and your whole team
We realise that people don’t like being preached to, so we have tried to communicate in a fun manner; Sam the Sustainable Cod is our six-foot shop mascot who is fully involved in encouraging people to make sustainable fish choices.
5. Influence Wider Progress by encouraging others to join your seafood sustainability journey
We ran a very successful Cod Free week in November 2011, when Sam the Sustainable Cod went off on his holiday. By taking our best selling fish off our menu, many thought we were committing financial suicide but in fact we made lots of new friends and sales ended up 30% on the same week last year. The warmest reaction to our initiative was from the young and consequently we decided to focus our attention on them, as they are decision makers of the future. Since then, we have run two very successful sustainable fish workshops for Year 5 & 6 primary school children in our restaurant before we open to the public. We think it is best if you try not to be a lone ranger in your organisation, but find some other like-minded individuals as team work makes the dream work.
My recommendation would be “go young”. The kids of today really get the issues regarding sustainable fish, they can always be employed to pester any older family and friends that are dragging their heals!