Independent restaurants and fish and chip shops can now apply for MSC certification under a scheme to widen the accreditation's scope.
The new scheme will make the route to certification easier and cheaper for smaller outlets, allowing them to benefit from the same Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) advantages as larger foodservice firms.
The MSC "ecolabel" allows certified businesses to display the MSC trademark logo on their menus, signs, advertisements, staff uniforms and websites, telling their customers that they are using sustainable wild fish and seafood from MSC-approved supply chains, and also storing it correctly. Farmed seafood isn't covered by the MSC.
The process is being managed in the UK by the ROC Group.
Applicants will be audited, and if successful will be added to the "group" and given an identification number, allowing it to use the MSC marks.
ROC Group managing director Ruth Westcott said: "By bringing restaurants and chippies under one group certificate, we can spread the cost of MSC certification, making it much easier to get MSC certified while retaining the rigour of MSC traceability. This new route to certification will open up MSC to a new audience."
Toby Middleton, UK country manager for the MSC, added: "This is a really welcome development. Half of the seafood eaten in the UK is eaten outside the home. The new ROC Group MSC certification will make it available to many more of them at a much reduced cost."
The number of MSC-certified restaurants and chippies in the UK currently stands at around 30, but the ROC group hopes that the new system will see this number increase dramatically.
Many larger foodservice firms and restaurants have already joined the MSC programme, with Sodexo stating in 2010 that all of its sites would serve certified fish, Birds Eye confirming its fish fingers as sustainable since 2012, and CH&Co switching to solely sustainable produce early last year.
A global initiative spanning countries including the UK, Spain, France, Iceland, Denmark, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Japan, China, Chile, Brazil, Singapore and the USA, it is estimated that worldwide, over 300 fisheries are signed up to the programme, with almost 20,000 seafood products bearing the MSC logo.
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