Fest to raise awareness of sustainable seafood
FROM chilli crab to cereal prawns, seafood is a firm fixture in Singapore's ever-expanding gastronomical landscape.
It would be unthinkable, then, that the likes of red snapper and tiger prawns may cease to exist here.
The threat of such an occurrence is why the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) want to raise awareness of the issue. Hence, they are organising Singapore's first Sustainable Seafood Festival, slated to take place in June.
From June 8-15, eight restaurants - including Absinthe Restaurant Francais, Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare and the soon-to-be-opened Seasons Bistro - will serve a special menu with seafood supplied by MSC-certified distributors, such as Indoguna and Lee Fish.
The MSC label means that the seafood was caught sustainably, allowing ocean stocks to be replenished and the ecosystem to remain in balance.
Diners can look forward to environmentally friendly fare such as Blackened Hake Fish Tacos ($16) at the Seasons Bistro and Marinated Chilean Sea Bass ($45) at the Conrad hotel's Oscar's.
The Hilton Hotel, which recently announced the removal of shark's fin from its menus, will also participate in the festival with dishes such as Salmon Tartare with Watermelon, Marjoram and Raspberries Vinaigrette (from $33) at its restaurant, il Cielo.
Supermarket Cold Storage is set to expand its range of MSC-certified products and hold promotions at selected outlets during this one-week period.
According to WWF chief executive Elaine Tan, Singapore consumes 140 million kg of seafood a year, most of which comes from neighbouring countries, such as the Philippines, that form the Coral Triangle.
MSC Asia-Pacific regional director Kelvin Ng says that, unfortunately, many of the fisheries within the Coral Triangle have not been certified by the MSC.
He also explains that, ultimately, consumers have the power to change that.
"The reason that fisheries aren't taking that step towards getting certified is consumers aren't asking for it. Therefore, these fisheries won't spend money to get certified."
Consumers can get their hands on tamper-proof MSC-certified products at supermarkets such as Cold Storage, NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong. Frozen fish fingers and breaded cod fillets are among the options.
However, fresh seafood remains available only to restaurants through selected distributors.
"It's definitely an eventual goal for the MSC to get fresh seafood out to consumers, but it's hard to ask a business to put out products that people are not asking for," says Mr Ng.