Top Caters Head To Fishing Line As Olympic Fish Legacy Goes Swimmingly

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fish by Maarit Lundback via Flikr

On the eve of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, top caterers are making last-minuted pledges to all London’s top sports venues to serve sustainable fish.

The Copper Box Arena, London Aquatics Centre, The Orbit, Wimbledon Tennis and Oval Cricket Ground receive a ‘gold medal’ for committing to serve sustainable fish
Hours before the release of the Sustainable Fish Cities medal table, two of the largest sports caterers in London have pledged to serve sustainable fish across their whole business. The moves by caterers Levy Restaurants UK and Delaware North mean that all the top sports venues in London are served food by companies with public commitments to use only verifiably sustainable fish.

Four years ago, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games became the first major sporting event to adopt strict sustainability standards for fish, supported by the Sustainable Fish Cities campaign. The Food Vision standards for the Games were widely hailed by conservation groups and sparked a major campaign to call on other large fish-serving businesses to follow suit, leading to the UK Government, NHS in England and Wales and nearly one third of UK universities to adopt the same fish standards [3].
Until recently, a number of London’s top sports venues had no similar policy, meaning that fans and guests might unwittingly be eating critically endangered or unsustainable fish when enjoying their favourite sport. Today’s medal table produced by the Sustainable Fish Cities campaign aimed at first to highlight this mixed bag of catering standards and recognise those that were doing well, but this sparked new pledges from Levy Restaurants UK and Delaware North to add to established fish commitments from venue food providers, BH Live, Elior and Sodexo.

Ruth Westcott, coordinator of Sustainable Fish Cities said “We were really concerned that the fantastic standards set by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were not being kept up at sports venues in London, even by those that had hosted Olympic events. So it was wonderful to receive pledges from two such influential caterers – it proves that they really are concerned about supporting sustainable fishing and protecting our marine environment.”

Five London venues have been awarded gold medals for pledging to maintain a sustainable fish policy to apply to all future catering contracts, using their buying power to influence their suppliers. These are the Copper Box Arena, London Aquatics Centre, Arcelormittall Orbit, the All-England Lawn Tennis Club and the Kia Oval Cricket Ground. This week the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council, which provides certification for sustainable seafood, also confirmed that the 2016 Rio Games will serve certified sustainable wild caught and farmed fish[4].

Colin Bailey, Managing Director of Levy Restaurants UK said: “It’s fantastic that the five iconic sporting venues that we operate at in London have reached the top of the sustainable fish medal table. Sportspeople and consumers can be confident we are doing our bit to protect fish stocks, through serving sustainable fish. Our medal haul reflects our commitment to ensuring fish can be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Ruth Westcott continued,

We congratulate BH Live, Elior and Sodexo caterers for their far-sighted approach to conserving the world’s fish stocks, and Levy Restaurants and Delaware North for joining in.

“By adopting a sustainable fish policy across their whole business, large caterers have the opportunity to make sustainable fish normal, meaning that individual venues and fans don’t need to worry about whether the fish they are eating comes from endangered or sustainable sources. These businesses are also sending an important message back along the supply chain that big companies, providing food in the city’s top venues, are committed to sourcing only fish that is demonstrably sustainable.”

The medal table awarded points on the following basis:

  • 1 point if the venue has signed up to the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge, meaning that the site will incorporate a requirement for sustainable fish [3] into any future buying.
  • 1 point if the venue has published a policy on sustainable fish.
  • 1 point if the main caterer used by the venue has signed up to the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge for their whole business. This means that the other venues in which the caterer operates will also be served sustainable fish – an important principle.