James Beard Foundation launches seafood sustainability programme

Leading restaurants across the US have signed up to a pilot seafood sustainability programme, launched by the James Beard Foundation

The culinary institution announced the Smart Catch programme at this summer’s SeaWeb Seafood Summit. Created by chefs for chefs the programme aims to increase the sustainability of the seafood supply chain. According to the Foundation, currently 90% of the world’s fisheries are either fully fished or overfished, meaning the challenge to preserve marine life is very real.

Many previous James Beard award nominees and winners are among the chefs who have already signed up. They include: Mario Batali’s B&B Hospitality Grup, Michael Cimarusti’s Providence in Los Angeles and Bil Telepan and Oceana in New York City.

In all over 60 chefs representing in excess of 100 restaurants have committed.

Environmental heroes

The programme is designed to benefit operators and consumers equally: chefs will receive training enabling them to serve seafood fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Customers, in turn, can take confidence from the Smart Catch emblem restaurants that commit to serving more than 80% sustainable seafood will earn.

“Chefs have the influence to educate our palates and our views,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Through Smart Catch, they are becoming new environmental heroes, as they use their influence to lead industry efforts to maintain healthy, sustainable food sources both now and for future generations.”

All Smart Catch restaurants are provided with menu consultations, staff training materials, up-to-date online sustainability assessments powered by FishChoice.com, marketing support, and guidance in working with their suppliers so they can make smart, environmentally responsible seafood choices.

The Smart Catch programme was developed by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen to make change on the water and piloted in Seattle in 2015.

“The future of the world’s oceans depends on all of us choosing sustainable seafood,” said James Deutsch, conservation director for Paul Allen. “James Beard Foundation’s announcement of their national rollout of Smart Catch represents a giant step in that direction. We couldn’t be more proud of the continued growth of this pioneering program we piloted in Seattle.”

Tina Nielsen

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