MBS to reel in more sources of sustainable seafood

Cheow Sue-Ann Straits Times 26 Oct 17;

Integrated resort Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is fishing for new means to ensure sustainable seafood in its restaurants.

By 2020, half of all seafood procured for MBS establishments will be from sources that meet international standards of sustainable farming and fishing.

Already, those looking to eat red garoupa or blue fin tuna, which are on the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) avoid list, will no longer find them on the menus at the nine restaurants run by MBS, as well as its hotel menu and at MBS events.

These are the latest seafood items MBS has removed, following its removal of shark's fin in 2014. MBS buys over four million kg of seafood each year.

According to WWF, Asia consumes two-thirds of the global fish catch, with Singapore's per capita seafood consumption of 22kg exceeding the global average of 20kg.

Over-fishing to meet such demand is now the single biggest threat to the oceans.

To curb its effects, MBS will collaborate with the international non-governmental organisation to develop measurable and achievable goals that improve responsible sourcing of supplies used by the integrated resort.

The partnership kicks off with a primary focus on seafood and ocean conservation, with MBS aiming to have 50 per cent of its seafood items, including its 10 most-popular items, responsibly sourced by 2020.

As of now, the resort has made some progress in attaining this goal, with all of its salmon, tilapia, prawns, mussels, lobsters and oysters obtained from sustainable sources.

These are sources that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council, independent third-party councils that analyse and certify fishing and farming practices.

Ms Elaine Tan, chief executive officer of WWF-Singapore, said the efforts of MBS, as a big buyer, will make a significant impact on the market, and pressure both fisheries and industry competitors to move towards responsible sourcing.

Mr Ian Wilson, MBS' senior vice-president of hotel operations, said the shift to sustainable practices will not cost MBS more and has not affected its business.

He said: "There is no increase in cost, and even if there is, we will pass zero dollars of the cost down to the consumer."

He also said that while MBS is removing certain items from its menus, it is working towards replacing each item with a more sustainable variety or a similar dish.

Under the programme, MBS is also supporting four aquaculture farms in Malaysia that practise sustainable farming. For every participant in its new eco-friendly events package, called It's Easy Meeting Green, MBS will donate $1 to support these farms.

Ms Tan said: " Given that 85 per cent of global fishing grounds are fished up to or above their limits, the urgency to transform fisheries is critical."