Sustainability is the New Black

 In From Fish & Co, Info, Sustainable

Partly as a result of the most successful Australia Sustainable Seafood Day hosted by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on March 18th, sustainable seafood is the “it” topic on everybody’s lips at the moment, if the amount of press coverage is anything to go by.  This surge of interest of reminiscent of the organic food debate that raged on a few years back.

In a similar vein to organic produce in the early stages, there are a lot of grey areas in the classification and determination of what constitutes as sustainable seafood, as there are different interest groups with not one centralised governing body to draw the line in the sand.  We, here at Fish & Co. recognise the MSC as the world leader in certification and ecolabelling in ensuring that the seafood comes from and can be traced back to a sustainable fishery.

Just last week, the Australian Financial Review highlighted the muddy waters of sustainable seafood noting the claim that Fish & Co. is the only 100 percent sustainable seafood restaurant in Australia, while Sydney Fish Market claims all 70 tonnes of seafood sold daily as sustainable, despite selling some species listed as threatened by the Marine Conservation Society.  On the flipside of the coin, the Brasserie Restaurant at the Hilton Adelaide believes seafood is only sustainable if sourced locally.  Our position is that sourcing sustainable seafood from overseas is justified it if means not depleting overfished stocks or using environmentally unfriendly farmed produce.

Just this weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald, a consumer fish guide published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society has been slammed by fisheries scientist as being “seriously flawed, misleading and not really helping consumers find sustainable seafood at all”.  The major criticism being that the broad overview of species caught in different parts of Australia does not reflect what is going on in the individual states or fisheries. We, at Fish & Co. care more than just about the species served.  In partnership with our fishmonger, Joto, we source seafood from sustainable fisheries, and where possible certified by the MSC.  For example, our ever popular Yelloweye mullet is shipped directly from the one fishery in Coorong, South Australia.  Though it might mean at times we cannot have it on the menu due to the lack of availability, we would rather say no to you than to compromise our principles by buying the fish from elsewhere.

What’s really encouraging is that this level of debate can make the average consumer stop to think before they order their next seafood feast.  With the supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths jostling for a stake in the sustainable seafood marketplace, this can only be a good thing for the dwindling fish stock.  I had a funny chat with a customer recently about this and she said something that really hit home, if a restaurant menu had tiger listed on it – would the average person order it?  I know it’s a bit of a stretch but some species of fish are near extinction or at least should be put on the endangered species list. Just a little food for thought…

In the meantime, happy eating and hope to see you soon at Fish & Co.!

Tibbie, Head Chef

If you are interested in reading the articles I mentioned:

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainable-fish-guide-misleading-says-scientist-20110325-1c9vv.html

http://afr.com/p/national/muddy_waters_of_sustainable_seafood_crjGIHmef4U81XNBORSLiO

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