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Mark Derry – A Minute on the Clock

05 June 2008

Mark Derry, managing director of fish restaurant chain Loch Fyne, has just collaborated with other industry leaders on an in-depth report into sustainable fishing. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn

Caterer Who was involved in the report?

MD The report is called Turning the Tide on Sustainability and it was compiled with the views of Rupert Howes, chief executive of the Marine Stewardship Council, Ian Gatt, president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, journalist Alex Renton and the Michelin-starred chef Nick Nairn.

Caterer What is it about?

MD It's mainly to do with sourcing sustainable fish and seafood and looking back on the 10 years of Loch Fyne operating as a restaurant business. A decade ago when we first started to focus on sustainability, we were considered odd, and caring about the environment was all a bit "beard and sandals" and not mainstream at all. So much has changed and people are a lot more aware now.

Caterer What were the key findings?

MD There were two main areas. On the one hand we looked at the global loss of sea species and volume. It's an international problem and we may have lost up to 90% of stocks in the last 90 years. The statistics on "by catch" [where fish are caught by mistake] are alarming and it's an unnecessary practice that can be eradicated. On the other hand, a lot has been achieved in the last 10 years, and there's a bigger focus on sustainable fishing and allowing local stocks to recover. But a lot more needs to be done.

Caterer Can the Government play a bigger role?

MD Definitely. Government needs to co-operate more because these problems are global. If an international agreement could be reached and the EU could enforce better policy, a lot could be achieved.

Caterer How can hospitality operators do their bit?

MD Consumers do have a certain amount of responsibility but ultimately it's up to operators. Diners come to us to have a good meal, not to worry about sustainability. Operators need to gain more knowledge and be more demanding of their suppliers. If everyone stops using a supplier who doesn't use sustainable fish, he'll eventually go out of business. There's one major misconception, which is that wild fish is better than farmed fish and this simply isn't true. With seafood, freshness is key, and a fish that arrives on the plate within 24 hours of being taken out of the water will always be superior to a frozen one.

Caterer Are you coping with food inflation?

MD So far we haven't been as badly affected as other businesses in the industry. Much of the problems are related to meat supplies and are down to increased feed prices. We don't rely on meat and use mainly wild produce. However, as the situation worsens and more and more operators switch to different produce, it will become harder.

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