Restaurateurs are warned over new endangered fish

21 February 2005 by
Restaurateurs are warned over new endangered fish

Restaurateurs and caterers have been warned against using five more species of fish by a leading marine conservation body.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is calling on them to avoid scabbard fish, brill trawled in the North Sea, grey mullet, turbot (North Sea), and wolffish, which are all now classified as endangered.

Five fish to avoid

A MCS spokeswoman said caterers should use alternatives to those named on its "fish to avoid" list. "While we can't physically take these fish off the menu, we're encouraging restaurateurs to diversify and give stocks the chance to recover," she added.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) goes one step further and calls on chefs to buy from MSC-certified fisheries. "We think that proven sustainably managed fisheries are the best way for restaurateurs to select fish - which should all carry our logo," said a spokeswoman.

Contract caterer Charlton House has trialled cod-free menus at several of its 140 UK sites and will remove the fish from all staff restaurants from 1 March.

Food innovation director David Cavalier said: "We've replaced cod with pollock and ling. As contract caterers we feed thousands of people and can make a big difference. I'm not saying chippies or restaurants should do the same, but some customers might go away from us and ask for some of these alternatives. It happened with dolphin-friendly tuna."

Matthew Ownsley Brown, head chef at Fishes restaurant in Burnham Market, Norfolk, believes offering a wider choice would help educate palates. "There should be more fish restaurants in the UK," he said. "If people ate a greater variety of fish, more chefs would put new dishes on the menu. It can be a very hit and miss approach, though - we're living in a country that's not quality-led."

Tony Allen, chief executive of the Loco chain of Italian restaurants, is unconvinced that the British public is that open-minded. "There are some products that don't capture the imagination," he said. "You can do some fantastic things with mackerel, and I've pushed it over the years, but I still can't get people to eat it."

For a full list of fish to avoid, visit

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 17 February 2005

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