The Role of Chefs & Restaurants

Chefs have an important role to play in seafood sustainability.

We are seeing more and more restaurant openings, and the number of meals eaten out of home is increasing greatly.  This means that chefs have a growing responsibility to educate and inform their customers, and provide them with sustainable alternatives. By telling suppliers and customers about sustainable seafood, chefs can create awareness of the issue.

Menu selections and purchasing decisions have the power to influence the market, and Australian fishing practices, directly. Together, chefs, restaurateurs and the public can ‘vote with their wallets’ to send a strong message to seafood suppliers, policy makers and fishermen. Let them know that the public supports sustainable seafood and will choose to spend their money in support of sustainable fisheries.

A chef’s commitment to sourcing only sustainably managed wild-caught and farmed seafood is an important action.  It shows an ability to act and demonstrates respect for the long-term future of seafood species.  As we’ve seen with movements such as organics and locavore eating, the trends that start in the nations restaurants don’t take long to trickle down to home cooking too.

Steps to a Sustainable Menu:

For a chef or restaurateur wanting to make a commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood, there are a few easy steps you can take.

1. Choose a relevant guide (such as AMCS’s Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide) to follow.

2. Start by committing not to sell any seafood that falls into the ‘red’ category of your guide.

3. Expand this commitment to include measurable goals such as “We will aim to purchase (over 50%) of our seafood from only ‘Green’ categories within 6 months, and (75%) within a year.”

4. Make sure your goals are realistic and put in place measures to make them possible.  For example, you might decide that with each change of your menu, you will attempt to replace one ‘Amber’ species with a ‘Green’.  These are small steps that will lead to a more sustainable business.

5. Be proud of your efforts and advertise them.  Make sure all staff understand the commitments of the business and the reasons for them, so they can pass on this information to your customers.  Good (ethical) business practices are something that consumers want to know about, and in turn be part of.

This is a simple guide to beginning a commitment to source only sustainable seafood. For more detailed information, feel free to contact GoodFishBadFish.

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