These days, people want more than just words about sustainable fishing, says James Simpson from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Putting a respected eco-label on your menu is the best way to prove your policies are sound. Fortunately, more suppliers are offering certified sustainable seafood than ever before.
Wholesale distributor 3663 recently announced 12 new MSC-labelled lines, Brakes already offers 20, Young's Seafood has nine and Green Gourmet, seven. Only a couple of weeks ago, Birds Eye announced plans to produce a new line of MSC eco-labelled fish fingers - the tea-time favourite just got sustainable.
Brakes and 3663 started selling sustainable seafood through their involvement with Fish & Kids - an MSC project to ensure that the fish now appearing on school menus every week is sourced sustainably. From initial pilots in Surrey and London's Tower Hamlets, the project has bloomed, with nearly a quarter of a million children now being offered eco-labelled sustainable fish. Schools and canteens are making good use of the eco-label as a marketing tool to families, something pubs and restaurants could easily latch on to.
Provenance is key with seafood and with MSC-labelled fish, every link in the supply chain is audited and certified to ensure fish you serve can be traced all the way back to the MSC-certified fishery that caught it.
To get the MSC eco-label on your menu, you first need to source fish from an MSC-certified supplier. Then you must get your own outlet certified for Chain of Custody - the MSC's traceability standard.
The Chain of Custody audit is surprisingly simple - you don't even have to order all of your fish from MSC sources. You just have to be able to show your independent certifier that you have systems in place to keep MSC fish separate from other fish and that you keep adequate records to show that you do that for every batch of fish you receive.
In essence, it's all about good stock management. With free advice from the MSC and the number of certifiers growing all the time, it's never been easier to go sustainable.
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