Seafood is a wonderful delicacy that helps form the backbone of thousands of restaurants. Seafood is healthy and great tasting, and customers love treating themselves to seafood when they go out to eat.
Unfortunately, overfishing has increased exponentially in the last 25 years, resulting in the collapse of a full third of the world’s fisheries. Many more are in serious decline, and if fishing continues at the present rate, all of the world’s fisheries will be tapped out by 2050.
In response, several organizations have started promoting sustainable seafood choices that harvest fishery populations in a responsible and sustainable way. Restaurateurs have also taken notice, and more and more restaurants are offering sustainable seafood on their menus.
To become a sustainable seafood restaurant, check out the resource guide published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium for both restaurants and consumers. This resource identifies fisheries that are being harvested sustainably so that you can make buying decisions accordingly.
Also talk with your restaurant’s seafood distributor and work with them to bring sustainable seafood options to your market. Many distributors already offer sustainable options and if they don’t, they should, so let them know that as a customer you would like a sustainable seafood option for your business.
Another option is to buy farm raised fish and shellfish products. One such species that has recently become available is the striped pangasius, a type of catfish native to southeast Asia that makes a great center-of-plate white fish for any restaurant.
The debate between environmental groups and commercial seafood farms over the impact of farm raised seafood still rages, and The Back Burner will be exploring those issues in future posts.
Choosing to be a sustainable seafood restaurant doesn’t have to mean compromising on the menu choices you offer your customers. It is possible to continue to bring great seafood menu items in a sustainable way.
And don’t forget to tell your customers you serve sustainable seafood. This is a great marketing tool that lets customers know you care about environmental trends and makes them feel better about ordering seafood items from your menu.