Alternative Solutions To Sourcing Sustainable Seafood

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on Jun 10, 2019 9:00:00 AM
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Our past coverage of sustainable seafood options for your restaurant focused on the two most common options available for you to serve: wild-caught, and farm-raised. But there are some instances where you may be interested in an alternative sustainable option. Are you a small farm-to-table restaurant featuring daily menu changes? A seasonal business located near a tightly-regulated fishery with annual changes to your catch regulations? Or perhaps you’re located in a tech or research economy and want to cater to the forward-thinking customer who is interested in cutting edge food, or maybe you want to offer a non-animal animal protein (you read that right!) on your otherwise vegetarian menu?

If any of this describes your business, then there are two unique alternatives you may want to consider: Community Supported Fisheries, and lab-grown fish.

Community Supported Fisheries (CSF)

A sub-category of sustainable wild-caught seafood, community supported fisheries go a step further by taking a more intentional role in the engagement between fisherman and consumer. Modeled on the more common community supported agriculture (CSA), CSFs help to mitigate issues with overfishing and by-catch by charging consumers before the fish is even caught, with the consumer agreeing to accept whatever fresh fish comes back that day.

See, the problem with by-catch works like this: A fisherman has a government-regulated quota of how much fish he can catch. Sometimes it’s a blanket amount across all species, and other times it’s regulated by the specific species (and can even include regulations around size, weight, gender, and season).

If, for example, a fisherman with a 1000 lb. quota goes out to sea one day and hauls up his net to find 400 lbs. of the lesser-known monkfish, he now has to make a difficult choice: Does he keep and report this 400 lbs. of monkfish, which he hopes he can sell for $5/lb, or does he throw it back — the fish now heavily stressed and quite possibly dead — in hopes of catching a more profitable (and currently overfished) 300 lbs. of cod that he knows he can sell at $7/lb?

By signing up for a CSF, you are helping the fisherman makes the more sustainable decision: He can say “I already have a buyer who has agreed to pay me for this monkfish. I’ll land this catch and come back out another day.”

CSFs are a great solution for situations like those listed in the introduction of this post, and you may want to consider buying into one if the model would fit your restaurant.

Lab-Grown Fish

The future of fish is (almost) here! Lab-grown fish — either cultured from actual fish cells, or in some cases a vegetable-based protein formulated to mimic the taste and texture of fish — is right around the corner.

While it hasn’t quite made it to the market yet, there are a number of well-funded startups that claim their products will be on your dinner plate before the end of 2019. Those interested in being first in line to serve lab-grown, cruelty-free fish should reach out to the producers ASAP, because the future of fish is closer than you might think!

 Download Now: Implementing a Sustainable Seafood Program!

Topics: Operations, food and beverage, sustainability, Sustainable Seafood

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