Fish restaurants go ethical

Updated on 15 November 2016 | 0 Comments

Increasing numbers of fish restaurateurs have menus written on ethical lines.

From chippies to fine dining purveyors, there’s evidence aplenty that the dangers to our fish supplies – and wider environment - have been taken on board.

Colman’s of South Shields

Long before Hugh’s Fish Fight, Colman’s, who have been serving fish and chips to the North East’s cognoscenti for over a century, had an ethical outlook. ‘We don’t serve any fish on the Marine Stewardship Council’s red list,’ says owner Richard Ord: ‘It’s not just in the fish sourcing that our policy shows – we have PV cells on our roof providing electricity; use only Fairtrade sugar, tea and coffee; all our used oil is recycled to bio-fuel; and we use energy-efficient equipment throughout.’

This moral stance benefits business: ‘It’s about doing the right thing, but a lot of our customers also want to know they’re not harming the environment,’ says Richard.

Ethical fish sourcing is far from limiting; Colman’s catch that day including gurnard, Dover and lemon sole, and whiting.

Senior’s of Lancashire

The Thornton branch of Senior’s fish and chip chain was recently named Best Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of 2012. ‘We feel the judges took our ethical policy into account in making their decision, likewise the localism of much of our fish sourcing – from Fleetwood fish market,’ says managing director Alastair Horabin. Trade has increased about 10 per cent since the win.

Alastair formalised their long-standing ethical policy in 2006: ‘We only buy fish that is 100 per cent sustainable, and we support all movements working to save fish stocks worldwide.’

That drive for sustainability is reflected in the menus in both sit-down and takeaway sections. There are plenty more (and different) fish in the sea as it were, gurnard and John Dory (their signature dish) on that day, and un-sexy fish like witches often featured.

Rick Stein in Cornwall

More than any other British chef Rick Stein is inextricably associated with fish. His spokesperson Nicola Duncan captures the ethical standpoint his restaurants take: ‘We take sustainability very seriously. We work with fish merchants who understand the need to conserve fish stocks. They tend to buy local fish, from boats that only go out to sea a day at a time. The vast majority of our seafood comes from Cornwall, except for the cod we use in our fish and chip restaurants which comes from Iceland. We work closely with Seafood Cornwall, who keep us regularly informed about the state of fish stocks in the South West.’

Lusso’s London

Contract caterers at the posh end of the market (clients include Investec), Lusso’s Ugly Fish Friday marketing initiative was inspired by Fish Fight. They put aesthetically challenged and gastronomically overlooked species on the menu: ‘The winner so far in the Ugly Fish Friday battle is a close call between the gurnard and the megrim, which looks as if it was run over by a number 25 bus,’ says Lusso MD Paul Hurren.

Are you influenced by the issue of fish sustainability?

Some related links you may like to explore:

Hugh's Big Fish Fight

Lovefood's top 10 tasty fish recipes 

Classic fish cookery writer Alan Davidson


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