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Heathrow becomes the world’s first Sustainable Fish Airport – inspiring change in restaurant groups across the country

Sustain has crowned Heathrow the world’s first Sustainable Fish Airport. The award is the outcome of an airport-wide initiative, involving all food and beverage partners across the five terminals, from family-favourites to fine dining.

Good Catch / Emily Howgate

Good Catch / Emily Howgate

Every partner at Heathrow has investigated the source of their seafood and made positive changes where required. Any whose menus still include ‘red-rated’ fish (those considered the least sustainable by the Marine Conservation Society) have pledged to remove them by June 2020, ensuring a traceable, sustainable supply chain.

As Europe’s largest airport, catering to over 80 million passengers each year, the impact of this commitment is enormous – covering 4 million fish meals per year. More than 20 fish species are served across Heathrow, with tuna sold in more outlets than any other species and salmon coming a close second. Both of these have sustainability challenges, so businesses have worked to source from more plentiful stocks, more responsible farms, or caught by pole-and-line, a less destructive fishing method.

As part of this project, the Heathrow food and beverage partners are adopting a sustainable fish buying policy, and for some the influence of this initiative has already rippled beyond the airport itself. A number of national restaurant groups, including Yo! have adopted the principles of the Sustainable Fish Airport Initiative across all their operations. This policy outlines a commitment to “avoid the worst” (remove red-rated fish from menus), “promote the best” (incorporate more sustainable fish species in dishes and menus) and “improve the rest” (find more sustainable sources of popular favourites).

Italian restaurant group Carluccio’s is introducing the public to some less well-known sustainable British seafood including clams, mussels and crab. Delaware North was the first contract caterer to take the pledge within Heathrow and has already excluded all fish that isn’t given a good sustainability rating by the Marine Conservation Society.

This project is an outstanding example of cross-industry collaboration – involving 37 restaurants and cafés, Sustain, The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and Heathrow’s senior management team, all working together and sharing information over the past six months.

Just one example of many success stories, comes from Yo! – the outlet with the widest range of fish species on its menu. Ensuring its most important ingredient is traceable and responsibly sourced has always been a priority for YO! So, the 71-site restaurant group jumped at the chance to align with Heathrow’s initiative and has used the opportunity to make further improvements to the supply chain, across the whole estate.   

Charlotte Whalley, Head of Customer Experience at YO!, said: “Ever since we opened our first YO! more than 20 years ago, we’ve been committed to serving only responsibly sourced fish and seafood. It’s wonderful to be part of a community of like-minded businesses at Heathrow: Sustainable Fish Airport, dedicated to preserving the future of our oceans.”

Commenting on the initiative, Ben Crowley, Head of Food & Beverage at Heathrow, said “Our partners have demonstrated outstanding commitment to delivering sustainable fish options to every passenger that passes through Heathrow, and we’re immensely proud to be able to offer travellers the very best, whilst showing that quality and taste need not cost the ocean. The full process to reach the accreditation has included revising the sourcing of family favourites, including cod and salmon, so that they meet the highest standards of sustainability; creating new dishes with delicious sustainable species, such as coley; and redesigning menus to make choosing sustainable options clear and easy.”

Ruth Westcott, Co-ordinator of the Sustainable Fish Airports campaign, said “When businesses work together on sustainable fish sourcing, we can achieve great things. Congratulations to all the businesses involved. Visitors should be excited and proud that they don’t need to worry about where their fish comes from when they eat in Heathrow Airport. I am particularly proud of the businesses that have taken this opportunity to change the fish supplied across their whole business, not just the outlets in Heathrow.  Heathrow have proven that airports can be a catalyst for change, and I look forward to the next airport that will step up to the plate and become leaders in tackling overfishing.”

Simon Heppner, Director of the SRA, which has been providing Heathrow with sustainability advice on a range of issues since 2013, said: “With over 80  million people passing through the airport every year, Heathrow has an important role to play in building awareness of the challenge faced by dwindling fish species, and how we can all make a difference. The willingness of all partners to engage with this collaborative effort and to make changes to their sourcing and menus has been great to see and I’m looking forward to the next challenge in making Heathrow a leader in ethical foodservice and retail.” 

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who for years has campaigned for sustainable seafood sourcing, said: “It’s great to see Heathrow become the first Sustainable Fish Airport this World Oceans Day. Taking red-listed fish off the menu in its restaurants is a great way of signalling to the world’s travellers that fishing sustainably is a vital part of looking after our oceans. This bold move sets an agenda that other airports and business hubs will surely want to follow.”

Raymond Blanc OBE, President of the SRA, said: "Heathrow taking red-rated fish off the menu in its restaurants is good news for the millions of people who use the airport and more importantly for the dwindling stocks of these overfished species.”

Sarah Williams, of the London Food Board, commented “We’re delighted that Heathrow has become the first airport in the world to achieve Sustainable Fish Airport status. It is absolutely crucial that it becomes standards practice to see sustainable fish on menus; if not we threaten the opportunity for future generations of Londoners to enjoy fish as we have done. Well done to all the restaurants, cafés, sandwich shops and sushi restaurants that have adopted a sustainable fish policy – many of these are familiar high street names for Londoners, and we warmly encourage other businesses in London to follow their example”.

Heathrow’s commitment to responsible fish sourcing forms part of the airport’s sustainability strategy, accessible here. For any passengers travelling through Heathrow over World Ocean’s Day, there will be activities and crafts in each terminal to celebrate the hard work in reaching this accreditation.


Notes to Editors:
About Heathrow  
Heathrow is Europe’s largest airport and one of the world’s top international aviation hubs. As the UK’s global gateway, Heathrow welcomes more than 80 million passengers every year. The airport is home to more than 80 airlines and is Britain’s largest cargo port, helping to drive British trade growth by connecting the nation to more than 200 destinations around the world. Heathrow is currently ranked by passengers as the “Best Airport in Western Europe” for the fifth year running and the “Best Airport for Shopping” for 10 years in a row. Terminal 5 holds the title of the “World’s Best Airport Terminal” and Terminal 2 is the airport’s most sustainable, now powered by 100% renewable gas and electricity. 

-    Sustainable Fish Airports is a project conceived by Sustain; The Alliance for Better Food and Farming, and run as a partnership Between Sustain, The Sustainable Restaurant Association and Heathrow.
-    All the passenger-terminal businesses serving fish within Heathrow are committing to put in place a sustainable fish buying policy. This policy embeds three key principles; ‘Avoid the Worst, Promote the Best, and Improve the rest’.
-    Before signing the pledge, businesses have engaged in a thorough review all their fish buying, finding out the exact species, and where and how all their fish products are fished or farmed. Then, all took at least one significant action towards sustainable fish and crucially, this includes removing red-rated fish (as rated by the Marine Conservation Society – MCS), if any is was the menu
-    In cases where it has been impossible to remove a product immediately (because menus have already been printed), partners are committing to removing unsustainable products at the next menu change, when they have the opportunity to reprint.
-    Details about the specific sourcing policy and actions taken by the vendors across Heathrow can be found on the Sustainable Fish Airports website, or the sustainability pages on the Heathrow website 

The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is a not for profit membership organisation. Since 2010, it’s been supporting the foodservice sector to tackle the complex and urgent problems facing the food system and diners make more sustainable choices when dining out.
With more than 9,500-member sites, from fine-dining, Michelin star restaurants to some of the UK’s largest and most popular high street chains, independent gastro pubs, workplace and university caterers, and cafés, we work across the whole foodservice sector to accelerate change towards a hospitality sector that is socially progressive and environmentally restorative.



Published Saturday 8 June 2019

Sustainable Fish: A campaign to protect precious marine environments and fishing livelihoods, and call for fish to be bought from sustainable sources. We want to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.

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