London Olympics Go Green with Sustainable Seafood

London has valiantly vowed to make the 2012 Olympic Games the most sustainable Olympics to date. One of the ways in which they are pursuing this goal is by serving only sustainable seafood at all of the events. Over 14 million meals are expected to be served during this year’s events and over 82 metric tonnes (or about 90 tons) of seafood, and since the Olympics take place in London, one would expect that a majority of those dishes will be fish and chips. 

In a report entitled “Food Vision” the Olympic Committee said that all fish served will be “demonstrably sustainable, with all wild-caught fish meeting the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, of high quality, fit for purpose and free from damage or spoilage.”

In addition to being home to the first green Olympics, London committed in 2011 to becoming the first “Sustainable Fish City”, through an alliance of non-profits such as Marine Conservation Society, Marine Stewardship Council, Seafood Choices Alliance and Fish2Fork that are working on sustainable seafood issues. London has joined in and must accomplish a set of targets before they can be declared as such.

It is Sustainable Fish City’s goal to engage all of London’s citizens and businesses in these efforts. At the beginning of the Olympics many of these groups had already taken the pledge to serve and consume sustainable fish. Several champion schools and universities in each of London’s boroughs are participating in different programs including MSC’s Fish & Kids project, and Food for Life. Other public-sector institutions have committed to implementing the 2012 sustainable food standards, which includes a sustainable fish commitment. This Sustainable Fish City pledge requires participants: to state their commitment, gather information, source sustainably (by avoiding the “red” designated fish, promoting the best and improving on the rest), communicate clearly and influence wider progress. Caterers that serve well over 100 million meals a year have adopted these sustainable fish standards, inspiring a fish legacy for long-term sustainable fish policies.


London's fish and chips staple is going sustainable. Photo by 90daysofsun via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License.

The London Olympics are dedicated to providing more than just sustainable seafood. London has described itself as the first “zero waste” Olympics, which includes ambitious recycling and reusing programs, and reducing packaging and other waste. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympics Games (LOCOG) requires that every scrap of food and beverage packaging must be recyclable or compostable. The Olympic Stadium is the most lightweight stadium ever operated, with over 40% of the structure’s concrete taken from recycled material. They have also aimed to go green with transportation, creating the Olympics Active Travel Program, which encourages visitors to walk, bike or take public transportation. They aim to achieve 1 million people traveling by foot or bicycle each day of the Games.

WWF recently released a scorecard and report of the London Olympics. In the efforts to provide local and sustainable food, the London Olympics earned a “green” rating, showing their increased markets for farmers in the region to promote local, seasonal, healthy and organic produce, including sustainable seafood. Although they recognize the areas where the Games fell short, they believe that the Games successfully demonstrated that they have been and can continue to be a powerful opportunity to “move towards more sustainable ways of living.”


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