By Jack Clarke, Sustainable Seafood Advocate, Marine Conservation Society
Seaspiracy, the recently released Netflix feature-length documentary, raised a lot of issues that shocked many. Sadly, for most of us at the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), these issues were far from new. We launched the Good Fish Guide over 20 years ago to help businesses and consumers avoid buying seafood that was causing such devastation to our oceans.
A lot of my work involves helping restaurants and the food service sector choose and use seafood more sustainably. I have a sneaky suspicion that you and your staff might be getting asked a few more questions about seafood than you did before.
We believe that sustainable seafood should be the only option available to diners. Diners do too.
A whopping 87% of them want better information so they can be confident that they’re not buying unsustainable fish or seafood products (MSC 2020). Now, more than ever, it’s really important to tell the story of your seafood. Your customers will not only thank you for it, but studies have shown they’ll be willing to pay more for it too (Neilsen 2018).
A couple of weeks ago we launched our new look Good Fish Guide, with sustainability ratings for over 120 species. It’s available online, as well as a handy app. Our simple search helps you to find ratings easily, and you can see sustainability advice straight away, so that you can quickly make decisions about what to source or avoid. If you want more detail, our new Species Pages contain headline advice on what to look out for and why. We also have detailed rationales for all our ratings, highlighting areas of most and least concern for each one, so that you know you’re making the right choices for the right reasons.
We rate seafood on a traffic light system, green is good, red is bad. We recommend that restaurants should, at the very least, stop selling red-rated seafood. This includes things like European eel and wild Atlantic halibut. These fish are as endangered as Bengal tigers, but are still finding their way onto menus up and down the country.
As well as our ratings, we have simple sourcing guidance for restaurants and food businesses. We’re making it easier than ever to make sure the seafood you source meets the ethical expectations of modern conscious consumers.
Our ratings cover all elements of the environmental aspects of fishing and farming. Bycatch, overfishing and habitat damage are all factored in. If you want to ensure all your seafood is sustainable and make that claim to your customers, you’ll need to source from the green end of the spectrum. We understand that restaurants can’t do this overnight, but we can help you set realistic timebound goals to remove the worst, promote the best and improve the rest.