High street restaurants and pubs need to do more to prevent seafood being overfished, analysis by Fish2fork and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) shows.
Of 11 restaurant and pub chains assessed, Yates, Giraffe, Little Chef, Slug and Lettuce and Wasabi failed to meet Fish2fork and MCS’ minimum expectations on sustainability.
Jamie’s Italian was the highest ranked outlet, closely followed by Brasserie Blanc, Loch Fyne, Las Iguanas, Strada and then TGI Fridays.
Fish2fork and MCS looked at the origins of the seafood served, the information provided to customers, and the approach to sourcing by 11 restaurant and pub chains to provide a rating for each outlet.
More than a third of high street restaurant and pub chains rated by Fish2fork and MCS in the last two years have failed to meet the two organisations' minimum expectations on sustainability.
Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested, according to the United Nations, and with 15% of the world’s annual catch being caught illegally, efforts to use sustainable supplies of seafood are vital.
However, some popular restaurant and pub chains are making huge strides towards ensuring that only responsibly sourced seafood is served on the high street.
“It’s fantastic to see the work restaurants like Jamie’s Italian and several others are putting into seeking out sustainable seafood,” said Tim Glover, managing director of Fish2fork.
“It’s not easy to ensure seafood is responsibly sourced, but it’s vital for the health of our seas and worth every penny invested by restaurants.”
He added: “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Jamie’s Italian, Loch Fyne, Brasserie Blanc, Las Iguanas, Strada, TGI Friday for achieving a blue fish rating in this phase of our project to assess high street chains. They are setting an example that we think others could and should follow.”
Samuel Stone, Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture at MCS said "We shouldn't have to leave our values and ethics behind when we eat out, and these blue fish rated restaurants are showing us that we don't need to when we order the seafood from their menus."
King prawns and other tropical prawns were, once again, identified as one of the most problematic types of seafood used by restaurants and pubs. Fish2fork and MCS encourage restaurants to use certified supplies but too often they either fail to do so or fail to make it clear to customers what their source is.
A lack of information to consumers remains one of the obstacles to diners who wish to eat seafood sustainably. Lack of transparency and information makes it impossible for the public to be sure the seafood being served is from well managed fisheries and fish farms.
Of 32 of the nation's most popular restaurant and pub chains rated since 2015, 13 have been given red fish ratings while 19 received blue fish ratings.
Fish2fork ratings are on a scale of 5 red fish, the worst, to 5 blue fish, the best. With 5 red fish at the bottom of the scale, ratings improve, half a fish at a time, to rise to 4.5 red fish, 4 red fish and so on until 0.5 red fish. From here, ratings rise from 0.5 blue fish to 5 blue fish.
MCS and Fish2fork are working to ensure that all seafood eaten or traded in the UK is from well managed fisheries and fish farms that have as little impact on the marine ecosystem as possible.
Diners can now post up their own reviews of restaurants across the UK using DinerRatings, an online initiative available via fish2fork.com or on the MCS Good Fish Guide app which is available, free, on iphone and android.
The ratings of 11 high street chains announced today are part of a project that began in 2015.
Ratings for 32 high street restaurant chains have been released in three tranches - November 2015, January 2017 and the third group today. In total they have more than 4,000 branches across the UK.
A direct comparison between the ratings for the first, pilot, tranche of high street restaurant ratings and the second two groups cannot be made. In between the first and second tranches, Fish2fork’s scoring system was improved, making it harder for restaurants to get a high blue fish rating.
The most commonly used seafood among the 11 chains surveyed were - 1)King and other tropical Prawns, 2)Salmon, 3)Squid, 4)Cod, 5)Crab, Sea bass, Langoustine (scampi).
The chain restaurants were rated according to the information on their online menus, websites and from what they directly told Fish2fork. They all have a seating area, and serve at least three species of seafood.
June 2017 ratings:
Jamie’s Italian 3.5 blue
Brasserie Blanc 3 blue
Las Iguanas 3 blue
Loch Fyne 3 blue
Strada 3 blue
TGI Friday 1.5 blue
Yates 1 red
Giraffe 1.5 red
Little Chef 2 red
Slug & Lettuce 3 red
Wasabi 3 red
Picture: Jamie Oliver