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What a plaice to be! Cardiff is world's first 'sustainable fish city'

CARDIFF’s latest accolade is certainly something to carp on about.

The capital, which serves nearly four million sustainably sourced fish meals per year, has become the first “sustainable fish city” in the world.

This is according to campaign group, Sustainable Fish Cities, which consists of an alliance of not-for-profit organisations who work on sustainable seafood issues, such as the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

In what has been described as a “landmark commitment,” the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP) has agreed to remove all endangered fish from hospital food in Wales after taking Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board’s lead. This is in addition to current commitments from Cardiff University, University of South Wales, and all primary and secondary schools across the city.

Local legend Keith the Fish

Local legend Keith the Fish

Ruth Westcott, Coordinator of Sustainable Fish Cities said: “NHS Wales are showing fantastic responsibility and leadership with this commitment and I hope it will encourage other suppliers and contract caterers to follow suit.

“So far the majority of NHS caterers in the UK have not taken the pledge, which means that there is a danger that in many parts of the UK, taxpayer’s money is being spent on products that are damaging our fisheries and oceans.

“However, the pledge has already been adopted by caterers serving nearly four million meals per year in Wales, as part of a campaign led by Food Cardiff and the Sustainable Food Cities network, including nearly all Cardiff’s primary and secondary schools, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales.”

Independent Cardiff fishmonger, Keith Twamley – or Keith the Fish to his customers – said: “I don’t sell tuna, monkfish or anything that is dying or is in danger of dying out.

“I know what I am doing, I have been doing it since 1963. On top of that, I have this certificate from Food Cardiff, which tells my customers my fish are sustainably sourced.

“Many supermarkets and some fishmongers source tuna which are unsustainably caught. They round them all up into a bay and slaughter them, and they are highly endangered.

“The recognition is good for Cardiff but there are hardly any fishmongers left unfortunately.”

Jonathan Adams, managing director of E. Ashtons Fishmongers, Cardiff Central Market, said: “Almost all of our fish has to be sustainably caught and traceable, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if they weren’t.

Ashtons at Cardiff Market

Ashtons at Cardiff Market

“Our customers are mainly hotels and restaurants and they want sustainable fish with marine conservation society logos, but the problem when you are affiliated with these organisations, the costs go up.

“We have had a conservation policy for about five years. It is quite important, and there is the responsible fishing scheme we are signed up to. Around 95 per cent of our fish are caught sustainably.

“My problem is people demand certain fish at certain times of year when it may not be sustainable to source them. So what do we do?”

A University of South Wales spokesperson said: “The University is proud to support the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge.

“By joining this pledge we are committed to buy only sustainable seafood, and to protecting precious marine environments and fish stocks.

“Diners at the University’s many catering outlets can be cod-fident that we only reel in sustainable supplies and that this policy will remain firmly in plaice.”

Although Cardiff is not the only UK city to be awarded sustainable food city status, along with Brighton & Hove, the London Borough of Lambeth, and Plymouth, Cardiff is the only city in the world to be awarded sustainable fish city status.

A Cardiff Council statement read: “On 17 March, Cardiff will become one of the first places in the UK to be awarded Sustainable Food City status, recognising pioneering work promoting healthy and sustainable food.”

Cardiff University refused to comment.

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