A macro photograph of the many layered, japanese, jewel-like skin of a freshly caught makerel, deep shades of emerald, blue, and gold flecks, underlaid by silver and overlaid by black bands

In a nutshell 

Our vision

We have spent much of our lives campaigning on environmental issues, but we also want to enjoy food! Eating wild-caught fish has a lot going for it, done responsibly. In Britain we have thousands of miles of coast, and an astonishing but scarcely known array of fish, fisheries and fishing communities. This is particularly so in London and the south-east, where our pilot work is based, and where many know little about the fisheries on our doorstep, producing wonderful fish (including some with a Marine Stewardship Council ‘green’ label). Many restaurants source globally, with no clear idea of where the fish come from or when they were caught.

Food mile issues often leave us feeling guilty about what we eat. One of the real ironies is that so much fish caught here goes abroad. For once we can benefit, by keeping more of something produced locally for ourselves. If we chose fish from around Britain, coupled with rising environmental standards, we can make a huge difference.

Our vision is simple. It’s taken time to mess up fisheries, and it’s going to take a while to sort it out – fish take time to grow. But that’s exactly the point: given the chance fish do grow! With determination, and the right steps, in a few years, we can make a difference. By 2020 we could have more bigger fish, flourishing local fisheries, a network of protected areas, with plenty left in the seas for wildlife and anglers. It’s not going to be easy; we will make mistakes. But it will be worth it. People will wonder what it was that took us so long.

There are serious problems, but it is also important not to be too negative – there are answers. Many need to act. But restaurants can play our part, in our sourcing choices. The natural ‘capital’ having been run down over years, it may not be easy for fishers while stocks replenish. Restaurants can help by offering a fair price and security of supply; providing a better market for undervalued fish; and ensuing that fishers who look after quality get rewarded. In the words of the Slow Food movement, to ensure that the fish are ‘good, clean and fair’.

We work with others including the Marine Stewardship Council, the Marine Conservation Society and Seafood Choices Alliance. But, in the time-pressured kitchen, there is a huge gap between knowing in principle what you should do, and actually being able to pick up the phone, place your order, be certain that it will turn up, in good condition, and know what to do with it when it does!

It’s that gap that we aim to fill.

In a nutshell