Some Australian restaurants are already doing amazing work to improve their seafood sustainability, and many of the pioneers in the field are featured on our website. There are also plenty of inspiring success stories from around the world, where many high profile chefs have become sustainable seafood leaders. At the forefront of the movement, chefs in the UK, Canada and the US are proving that bringing sustainable fish into restaurants is a smart business and environmental decision.
“If I, as a chef could only accomplish one thing, the health of the oceans would be the most important – I’m all too aware of the impact our desire for seafood can have on the oceans. But I’m in a position where I can help to make sure the seafood choices in my restaurant not only means the sea can keep on giving us great seafood, but that the fishing industry has a future as well.”
Chef Rob Clark heads up Vancouver’s premiere sustainable seafood restaurant, C Restaurant. He started on his path to sustainability in the late 1990’s after noticing that he was at the mercy of his suppliers to receive high quality seafood that was correctly labelled. He started working with suppliers and directly with fishermen to ensure he could get tasty, trustworthy fish for his restaurant. He is a founding member of Canada’s sustainable seafood restaurant program, Ocean Wise, and continues to help them promote sustainability to chefs across the country. He is a big proponent of serving a diverse array of local, seasonal seafood, and even organises a yearly Spot Prawn Festival to celebrate this sustainable species’ yearly catch. You can use Chef Clark as an inspiration in your restaurant- work with your supplier to ensure you receive sustainable fish, or introduce unique, seasonal species on your menu.
Here’s Rob receiving the Foodservice and Hospitality Magazine’s Chef of the Year 2011 award for his commitment to sustainable seafood:
Check out Chef Rob Clark’s commitment to sustainable seafood on his website.
Sushi restaurants use a huge amount of fish, and their buying practices have a big impact on fish markets. Kristofor Lofgren recognised his impact when he started Bamboo Sushi in Portland USA, with the goal of serving people the best fish possible while helping the ocean at the same time. His restaurant earned raves from both reviewers and environmentalists, and he is a certified Marine Stewardship Council restaurant partner. He is positive proof that sustainable doesn’t have to cut into your bottom line.
“We can’t afford to sell for premium prices because we’re not in San Francisco, we’re not in L.A., we’re not in New York. People are very pragmatic here [in Portland].”
Bamboo Sushi founder Kristofer Lofgren discusses how sustainable seafood works to create a successful business:
Check out Bamboo Sushi’s webpage to see their sustainability statement.
The Bay Fish & Chips
Fish and Chips in the UK are big business, and The Bay Fish & Chips established themselves as a sustainability leader in the field. This shop uses MSC-certified haddock and displays the MSC ecolabel as a certified chain-of-custody member. They have won numerous sustainability competitions, and achieved a four out of five rating from Fish 2 Fork, a UK-wide restaurant program rating establishments on sustainable seafood practices. They strive to provide local fish so they can keep track of food from sea to plate. Follow the lead of The Bay Fish and Chips, and start sourcing the fish you use in your fish and chip dishes from local MSC-certified or AMCS green-listed sources, or check out their sustainability statement on their website for some food for thought.
No matter what type of restaurant you run, there are many examples of successful businesses and movements around the world for you to check out:
Sustainable Fish City: Following the success of using only sustainably-caught seafood at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, London aims to be the world’s first “Sustainable Fish City”.
Fish Fight Campaign: Leading chef, food writer and TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall decided to travel around the UK to see fisheries up close, and talk to fishers, conservationists, politicians and the public about issues surrounding bycatch. His fight to improve fisheries laws and reduce bycatch continues online with the support of celebrities, chefs and many others.
Dan Barber, a chef in the US at Blue Hill Restaurant, discusses his search for the perfect farmed fish in his TED talk, “How I fell in love with a fish”: