Plymouth has become the first city in the world to secure a Fish2fork Blue City Award. Paul Cox, Director of Conservation and Communication at the National Marine Aquarium made the announcement today at the Big Food Debate, and proudly presented the award to Plymouth Councillor, Tudor Evans.
Paul also revealed the National Marine Aquarium will now be spearheading Plymouth’s bid to become a Sustainable Fish City, as it continues to drive sustainable fish sourcing in the city.
The National Marine Aquarium, Destination Plymouth and Plymouth University Marine Institute joined forces last year to initiate the Plymouth Blue City project to demonstrate the sustainable seafood credentials of the city’s restaurants. Over the last year, restaurateurs across the city have been working hard to qualify for a Fish2fork Blue Fish rating which reflects the restaurant is acting sustainably in choosing its seafood and engaging customers with information about the credentials of the food served.
With the majority of the city’s restaurants now demonstrating excellent sustainable seafood practices, Plymouth has been successful in its bid to become the first city in the world to achieve the Fish2fork Blue City award.
The Aquarium will now be looking for other caterers to follow the restaurants’ lead as Plymouth bids to become one of the UK’s first Sustainable Fish Cities. The campaign, which is supported by top star chef, Raymond Blanc and run by a team of food and conservation groups, has so far succeeded in signing up towns and cities feeding over 13 million people to take up the challenge; Belfast, Bournemouth and Poole, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, Hull, Lancashire, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Plymouth and Stockport. The Plymouth bid is already off to a strong start as the Fish2fork Blue City award qualifies for one of the five stars, Sustainable fish innovation. The Aquarium, along with Food Plymouth, will be driving the project to obtain pledges from local schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and businesses to achieve the five gold-star standard.
Paul Cox, Director of Conservation and Communication at the National Marine Aquarium said: “The Blue City award is an excellent achievement for the city and credit must go to the restaurants that are demonstrating such good practice. This is a real feather in the cap for the City and hopefully we can build on this to lead the country in the Sustainable Fish City campaign. Through these projects we hope we can start to reconnect the City with the seafood that it eats and with the local fishing industry that supplies excellent, responsibly caught seafood. ”
Tim Glover, co-founder and Managing Director of Fish2fork, said: “This is a marvelous achievement by Plymouth. The city is to be congratulated for its attitude to marine sustainability. In particular, we are delighted at the way in which Plymouth’s restaurants have risen to the challenge of seafood sustainability. Many of them have made changes to menus and provided more information to customers about the origins of their seafood in order for the city to win the award.
“We hope that after our engagement with the restaurants that they have a better understanding of how to ensure their menus feature seafood from sustainable sources – we appreciate it’s not always easy but it is important if healthy supplies of fish and shellfish are to be maintained over the coming decades, especially with pressure on the food chain rising with the human population expanding globally. Fish2fork would also like to thank the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University and Destination Plymouth for their continued support and their efforts on marine sustainability.”
Plymouth City Council’s Leader, Tudor Evans, said: “This is fantastic! We are the very first city in the UK to have won this award. We are Britain’s Ocean City and have many fishermen operating from our Harbour, so it’s very fitting to say that we have lots of fish and it’s sustainably sourced! Working with the National Marine Aquarium and Destination Plymouth we are proud to say we are a Blue City and will work hard to push forward to the Sustainable Fish Campaign.”
Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth, Amanda Lumley, added: “With many high profile restaurants in the city it is important to showcase the fact that the fish they serve is sourced sustainably. River Cottage is renowned for sourcing sustainable fish, we also have the Mitch Tonks Rockfish Restaurant. As well as restaurants we have fish markets located in the City Market and Plymouth Fisheries at Sutton Harbour, which is the second biggest fish market in England - these are all definitely worth a visit.”
Professor Martin Attrill, Director of the Marine Institute at Plymouth University, said: “The University has a global reputation for both marine and maritime research, and for its sustainability credentials, and our backing of the Fish2Fork Blue City initiative is all about addressing the need to manage the marine environment in a sustainable and more localised manner. We need to reconnect our communities with their fishing industry and their local catches that are obtained sustainably – and as this award shows, Plymouth is leading the way.”
Ruth Westcott, Co-ordinator of the Sustainable Fish City campaign, said: “It is truly inspiring to see Plymouth take up the challenge to become the world’s first Sustainable Fish City. We don’t want to be contributing to the loss of our precious marine ecosystems when we eat out, and I am delighted to see so many businesses getting involved already to take a stand on this vitally important issue. We estimate that the people of Plymouth spend nearly £3 million on fish every year*, which could be supporting our sustainable fisheries.”
The successful Blue City award follows the National Marine Aquarium’s very own Head Chef, Craig Walker being awarded a Blue Fish rating; with Fish2fork recognising the efforts the Aquarium goes to ensure it is uses fish from sustainable sources and other ethical sourcing methods.
Fish2fork operates in six countries – the UK, the US, France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. Since 2009, it has carried out research into the sustainability of the fish and shellfish served in more than 1,000 restaurants.
Restaurants are rated on a 10-point scale. The highest possible rating is 5 blue fish, indicating a restaurant which has proven it has very best practices in seafood sustainability. The lowest possible rating is 5 red fish.