Friday 4th June, 2010

The lingo of sustainability

Fish Kitchen. image Courtesy of Alice Lin.

At a time when 80% of our oceans are overfished either to marine ecosystem collapse or to maximum fishing capacity, it is difficult to find a restaurant that serves guilt-free seafood.  Fish!kitchen comes close to that near-impossible.

Guilt Free Fish ‘n’ Chips?

Fish!kitchen serves some of the best fish and chips around, and you might happily pay  £15.95 to £18.95 to enjoy guilt-free ocean produce.  “[Owner Tony Allan] knows where all the fish came from”, according to Chris van Brockhoven, the restaurant’s managing director.  That’s an impressive claim which not many restaurateurs can stake, and it shows Fish!kitchen’s commitment to the quality of the seafood served.

Unfortunately, knowing where the fish was caught seems to be the extent of it.  When asked whether or not the seafood is ‘sustainable’, van Brockhoven said: “We don’t claim to be sustainable.  Our fish is responsibly sourced, and we hold ourselves accountable.  We try our best to make sure that all our seafood is responsibly sourced.’

Responsibly Sourced = Sustainable?

And therein lies the problem. ‘Responsibly sourced’ does not seem far removed from ‘sustainable’ but may in reality be a far cry from that Holy Grail.  Fish!kitchen is not just a restaurant but also its own fishmonger – Tony Allan actually started off as a fishmonger, and in the wake of that success, opened up the restaurants.  So Fish!kitchen definitely knows where it gets its fish.

The restaurant tries whenever possible to serve sustainable seafood, but, van Brockhoven said: “A couple of species on our menu are not sustainable.  If everything were, half the menu would disappear.” 
So next time you’re contemplating ordering seafood in a restaurant or purchasing it for a home-cooked meal, make sure it’s on this list. 


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