Once you’ve identified your vision for your restaurant, you’ll need to make it a reality. This is where your supplier comes in. He or she will need to know your commitment to serving sustainable seafood, and understand that it’s more than just a buzz word to you and your staff. A good way to start the conversation is to take a look at the template letter to your seafood supplier. This explains the intention of the Good Fish Project Chefs’ Charter, what you’ve signed up to, and how you want their help along the way.
Depending on their knowledge of the industry, your supplier might need to better familiarise themselves with the impacts of seafood production, and also with the resources you’re using to decide what you want to sell. They’ll need to take a look at Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and any other information sources to identify seafood they can source at the right price point for you. Ideally, they will supply you with a list of sustainable seafood they can source, with the following details:
- What species it is
- Where it comes from – country imported from or region of Australia
- The fishing or farming method – how it was caught or farmed; for example, Australia barramundi can be caught on longlines or in gillnets or farmed, or it can be imported.
Ask for this information to be included on invoices, product lists, salesheets, or on whatever method you or your supplier uses to trade seafood.
What if my supplier can’t answer my questions?
Traceability, and being able to tell your customers the story behind the seafood you choose, is the foundation to the Chefs’ Charter. It’s important to ensure you’re actually serving the seafood listed on your menu. Currently, Australia’s seafood labelling laws are weak, and don’t require restaurants to state either the species being served or the country that it came from.
Your supplier should be able to answer the following questions:
- What species of seafood is it?
- Where does it come from (country and region, if caught in Australia)?
- How was it caught or farmed?
These answers are usually provided at wholesale markets or by fishermen themselves, and it’s your supplier’s responsibility to get that information to your restaurant.
If they can’t answer your questions, ask them to provide the information for your next order. If it turns out giving you the information is too much of a challenge for your supplier, it’s worth seeing what other suppliers are able to provide.