Caterers, retailers and seafood suppliers gather for a good cause
65 participants came together, including chefs and representatives from hotel chains, catering groups, clubhouses, theme parks, retailers, seafood suppliers and the Hong Kong Government. Speakers shared their experiences about the potential risks related to the supply chain such as environmental, legal and social risk.
Pakawan Talawat, Fishery Project Manager – WWF-Thailand cited shrimp farming in Thailand as an example to demonstrate how sourcing shrimp from farms using unsustainable farming practices could bear social and environmental risk because in some cases mangroves are destroyed to build farms, which will destroy the nursery areas for many marine species.
William Lau, Head of Supply Chain & QA – Maxim’s Caterers Limited and Makiko Karasawa, Ocean Gems Specialist – Indoguna Singapore Pte Limited talked about how their companies implemented sustainable seafood policies and shared their experiences and challenges from the perspective of a caterer and supplier.
To minimize the risk associated with the supply chain, sustainability and traceability should be addressed. Dr Allen To, Assistant Manager, Footprint Programme – WWF-Hong Kong and Sheryl Torres-Wu, Program Director, SE Asia and Hong Kong – Marine Stewardship Council explained the importance of local businesses sourcing sustainable seafood using the WWF Seafood Guide. He also outlined how companies can look for ASC and MSC certified seafood, and collaborate with WWF on a holistic sustainable seafood sourcing strategy, to ensure that seafood was sustainably and responsibly produced and is traceable from fishery to our plate.
To get every participant involved in the seminar, a poll was conducted identifying the biggest challenges of sourcing sustainable seafood in their company. Results showed that “lack of customer demand” was the biggest challenge followed by “relatively higher prices than non-sustainable seafood”. It implied that public engagement and education of consumers about sustainable seafood is an important element when implementing the policy. Although “relatively higher prices than non-sustainable seafood” ranked second out of the possible challenges to companies, some restaurant representatives in the seminar argued that the cost difference now was less of a problem compared to a few years ago on products such as lobster, shrimp and salmon. Participants were further encouraged to proactively increase the product range of sustainable seafood choices.
As the number of companies that serve sustainable seafood is gradually increasing, internal education and communication continues to be important. Due to the high turnover rate in F&B industry in Hong Kong, knowledge of sustainable seafood should be transferable among senior management and staff at the operational level, including frontline staff. Only in this way, the concept of sustainable seafood could truly take root in the minds of all the staff.
This year, the seminar was a great success as it gathered both established business leaders and new comers to exchange experiences and share what can be done to conserve our oceans by minimizing the risks associated with sourcing seafood. Together, we have to live and operate within the boundaries of what our planet can support, only then can we create a sustainable future for humans and the oceans!