Sustainable seafood on the menu at Australia’s top restaurants
18 April 2019 at 5:01 pm
Some of Australia’s leading chefs are pledging to only serve sustainably sourced seafood in their restaurants as part of the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s GoodFish project.
All 40 restaurants signed up to the project have agreed not to source or serve “red-listed” seafood as determined by the Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide, published by the society.
World-renowned chef Ben Shewry, the owner of Attica in Melbourne which is ranked 20 among the world’s best restaurants, is the project’s ambassador.
Shewry started using the seafood guide over 10 years ago to inform his seafood sourcing and said that chefs had a moral responsibility to know where their food was coming from.
“In my position as a chef, I have a big influence on what people eat and what other people cook because our restaurant is well known,” Shewry said.
“If I don’t have what I would call a clean menu – if I don’t have best practice, the most sustainable menu I can have in terms of shellfish and seafood – then I am contributing to the problem.”
Some of the most notable chefs in the country have signed up for the program, including Alanna Sapwell from Arc Dining, Jacqui Challinor from NOMAD, and Alejandro Saravia from Pastuso.
Australian chef and GoodFish manager Sascha Rust told Pro Bono News that having such big names signed to the program was vital in spreading the message into the mainstream.
“The people that have signed on so far are really acting as leaders for the movement. I think there’s an appetite for it to spread across the broader industry,” Rust said.
“It’s not just about getting the fine diners on board, the success of this program will definitely be seen when the fish and chip shops and your local restaurants have started to believe in our message about sustainability.”
He also said that while Australian chefs have always had a good understanding of where the food they were cooking with came from, seafood often flew under the sustainability radar, which was something the project aimed to change.
“Seafood flies under the radar because it’s much more complex space, and up until now there hasn’t been a clear voice to offer any insight into the industry,” he said.
“I think it’s really timely, as people are becoming more concerned and aware [of the issue], and are turning to every little corner to improve the way that they work.”
The Sustainable Seafood Guide covers 92 per cent of seafood Australians eat, colour-coding the seafood into green for “better choice”, amber for “eat less”, and red for “say no”.
It also assesses fisheries and aquaculture operators on a range of practices, such as the stock status of the species, the methods used to catch or farm them, and impacts on other marine wildlife and habitats.
Popular seafood such as Atlantic salmon, the Balmain bug, wild barramundi and the king prawn are all red-listed products.