Going beyond corporate responsibility, Manila’s top hotels and restaurants advocate and support sustainable seafood initiative.
By Marilen Fontanilla
In a bid to help save overfished Philippine seas, Manila’s top hotels and restaurants came together with environmental groups and fisheries NGOs to declare their support for the promotion of SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD. It was a landmark moment in the foodservice sector last November 24 at Manila Marriott Hotel, with a concerted initiative that involved groups who fully recognized that the marine environment has long been plagued by problems, including overfishing due to decades of unsustainable fishing practices. Participating and supporting organizations include Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Meliomar Inc., Fairmont Hotel, Hyatt City of Dreams Manila, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Marriott Manila Hotel, The Peninsula Manila, Shangri-La Hotels, Fairmont Raffles, New World Makati, Alab, Le Club, Lulu and Hooch, Vask, Disciples Escoffier International Asia, Blueyou, Centre for Sustainability, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, PEMSEA and RARE Fish Forever.
“The urgent need and commitment towards fully traceable, legal, sustainable and socially responsible seafood cannot be overemphasized,” states Christian Schmidradner, General Manager of Meliomar Inc. and organizer of the event. He was joined in the presentation by Vince Cinches (Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines), Area Executive Chef of Shangri-La Hotels and
Resorts Philippines Paul Lenz, Executive Chef of Manila Marriott Hotel Meik Brammer, Hyatt City of Dreams Manila Executive Chef Michael Ludtke,Executive Chef of The Peninsula Manila Mike Wehrle, Vice President for RARE Philippines Rocky Tirona, Chef Myke Sarthou of Alab, Executive Chef of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Lluis Cantons and President of Disciples Escoffier Philippines Philip John Golding.
With more than 90% of fish stocks in the Philippines being overexploited or depleted, and destructive and illegal fishing wreaking havoc on the marine environment, returns per catch effort are at the lowest level ever recorded. Similarly, many aquaculture operations use unsustainable sources of feed and pollute aquatic ecosystems with chemicals and antibiotics. Now more than ever, restaurants and hotel groups recognize their increasing responsibility to procure from sustainable sources and to educate their consumers about the need for sustainable seafood. “Our commitment is part of a global effort to sustain fisheries resources and protect our oceans, with the recognition that our restaurants and hotels have the responsibility and the power to address this issue from a direct supply chain perspective,” explains Chef Meik Brammer.
Environmental groups and Civil Society Organizations lauded the historical decision of these major hotels and restaurants for taking the lead, and being part of the global effort to protect our oceans, one menu at a time. “By taking on the responsibility of sourcing and serving traceable, sustainable, and equitable seafood, the hotel and restaurant industry is demonstrating the viability of sustainable seafood which not only benefits local communities, but also helps conserve and protect our fragile marine ecosystems,” said Cinches of Greenpeace. “We call on the rest of the industry to ease out overfishing, wasteful fishing, and destructive fishing practices that accidentally catch sharks and turtles by cleaning up their menu and serve traceable and sustainable seafood.”
Raising consumer awareness and moving the country’s seafood industry towardsgreater sustainability are urgently required to help reverse fisheries decline. The groups are organizing a Sustainable Seafood Week in February 2016,envisioned “to establish an open and dynamic platform for interested stakeholders to discuss the status, challenges and awareness for more sustainable seafood in the Philippines, focusing on local solutions for change and reform in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.” “Sustainable seafood requires a long term, dedicated approach by all players along seafood supply chains. The Sustainable Seafood Week shall become our main tool for the facilitation of change, to learn from experiences from others and monitor improvements over time,” Schmidradner concludes. The campaign was highlighted with the service of sustainable seafood dishes from Shangri-La Makati, The Peninsula Manila, Disciples Escoffier Philippines, Manila Marriott Hotel, Gallery Vask, Alab, and Hyatt City of Dreams Manila