Sustain / Sustainable Fish

Richard Bell, The Three Stags

Richard Bell is owner of the Three Stags [link] gastropub in Kennington, South London. The Three Stags is an authentic London pub close to Waterloo station and the Imperial War Museum. It prides itself on serving top quality food made from fresh ingredients, served up with international wines and traditional beers and lagers. Film buffs can also make a visit to Chaplin’s Corner, where Charlie Chaplin’s father was known to sit for hours, pint in hand! 

The Three Stags logo

Richard Bell is a keen supporter of the the Sustainable Restaurant Association, as well as Sustainable Fish City, and has taken the time to explain why he thinks sustainable fish is so important.

Q: Why do you think sustainable fish is important?

We have recognised that the indiscriminate hunting of all fish is not only destroying fish stocks, but is also destroying the sea beds and the oceans. Unless we react now, and only hunt and consume what is sustainable, there will be no fish left.

The problem with mankind is that he believes he is mightier than nature and so is in control of it.  All forms of life on the planet - including ourselves - are part of a balanced ecosystem. Until we realise this, our fish - along with every other species - remain endangered.

Fish and animals unfortunately don’t have a vote and they are unable to speak for themselves. It must surely be up to us to act on their behalf and act now!

Q: What inspired you to take action on sustainable fish?

Initially, we became interested in sustainable fish after joining the Sustainable Restaurant Association. But more recently of course, there was Hugh’s Fish Fight. This is one occasion for which the celebrity chef, so prevalent in our media and psyche, has proved to be extremely beneficial!

I am proud as a caterer to be a part of Hugh’s Fish Fight, which we hope has thus far gone a long way change legislation regarding how we hunt our fish through barbaric, destructive, and selfish "live-for-the-day" trawling methods. I worked on a trawler myself for six months off Whitstable Harbour back in the early eighties. Even then the fishermen were complaining that their fathers used to fill the boats when they were younger and that the fish were obviously becoming unsustainable. Monster sizes of individual species were a thing of the past, and most of their catch were becoming too small to land.

The practice of millions of tonnes of fish being discarded has been going on for decades ever since. None of the fishermen have campaigned against this practice. The people haven’t because they didn’t know and the government certainly haven’t as they supported the decision in the first place.

Q: And what have you done as a result?

By the end of May 2011. our kitchen will have no intensively farmed ingredients in any of our dishes. I use seafood from Seafood Direct, and at present only sell by-catch such as gurnard, pollock and coley.

With the help of Sustain, Ethical Eats and the Sustainable Restaurant Association, I will only use fish that I have been assured is sustainable. This information is passed on by us to the customer through social media, my staff and in-house point-of-sale materials.

Q: What would you say to a restaurant interested in serving sustainable fish?

Serving sustainable fish is essential! It’s as simple as that. It’s not that I’m being self righteous, it’s the facts.

As a far as I am concerned - especially if you choose to cook and sell food to the public - there should be morals and integrity involved.

Q: What would you say to someone in a similar business to yours?

Restaurateurs have the opportunity to play a major part in sustainability. They should be proud to be involved in that.

We have the opportunity to educate our customers.

We have the chance to leave something behind that’s lasting when we are gone.

The Three Stags fish dish, putting otherwise discarded fish to deliciously good use!

Q: What would you say to a business that hasn't yet tackled the issue of sustainable fish?

Don’t be afraid! Don’t think you are limiting your options. You are not. We are an island surrounded by sea and the creatures in it. We don’t have to just eat cod. There are plenty more delicious fish in the sea and we need to utilise those in order to have cod and other endangered fish available for us in the future.

Do it now, before it’s too late! Join all the organisations such as yours and fight the fight. It’s good for businesses, it’s good for the planet and it’s good for fish!

Find out more about The Three Stags gastropub at:

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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