In a bid to help save overfished Philippine seas, Manila’s top hotels and restaurants came together with environmental groups and NGOs for fisheries to declare their support for the promotion of sustainable seafood.
The participants—that included the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Fairmont Hotel, Hyatt City of Dreams Manila, Marco Polo Ortigas, Marriott Manila Hotel, The Peninsula Manila, Shangri-La Hotels, Fairmont Raffles, New World Makati, Alab, Le Club, Lulu Hooch, Vask, Disciples Escoffier International Asia, Blueyou, Centre for Sustainability, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, PEMSEA and RARE Fish Forever—fully recognized that the marine environment has long been plagued by problems caused by decades of unsustainable fishing practices.
“The urgent need and commitment towards fully traceable, legal, sustainable and socially responsible seafood cannot be overemphasized,” stated Christian Schmidradner, general manager of Meliomar Inc. and organizer of the recent gathering. Meliomar is a tuna processing and export company.
With more than 90 percent 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,” explained Meik Brammer, executive chef of Manila Marriott Hotel.
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 benefitslocal communities, but also helpsconserve and protect our fragile marine ecosystems,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.
He continued, “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 only traceable and sustainable seafood.”
Raising consumer awareness and moving the country’s seafood industry towards greater 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 to monitor improvements over time,” Schmidradner concluded.