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High street seafood – what’s the catch?

Some high street pubs and restaurants are ‘risking future fish stocks’
High street seafood – what’s the catch?

High street restaurants and pubs need to do more to prevent seafood being overfished, according to analysis by Fish2fork and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

Of the 11 restaurant and pub chains assessed, Yates, Giraffe, Little Chef, Slug and Lettuce and Wasabi failed to meet Fish2fork and MCS’s 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.

Why it matters

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, then used the findings 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.

According to the United Nations, almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested. With 15% of the world’s annual catch being caught illegally, efforts to use sustainable supplies of seafood are vital.

Setting an example

However, some popular restaurant and pub chains are making huge strides towards ensuring that only responsibly sourced seafood is served on the high street.

Tim Glover, managing director of Fish2fork, said it’s ‘fantastic to see the work restaurants like Jamie’s Italian and several others are putting into seeking out sustainable seafood.’

‘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.

‘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.’

Managing director of Fish2fork

The problem with prawns

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.

Red and blue fish

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.

‘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.’

Head of fisheries and aquaculture at MCS

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.

June 2017 ratings

Blue fish (best)

  • 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

Red fish (worst)

  • Yates: 1 red
  • Giraffe: 1.5 red
  • Little Chef: 2 red
  • Slug & Lettuce: 3 red
  • Wasabi: 3 red

Post your reviews

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 or on the MCS Good Fish Guide app which is available, free, on iPhone and Android.

Click here to use DinerRatings to help change the way restaurants think about their seafood.

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