Sustainable seafood might be the newest trend on the dining scene, but just how much do you know about it? We debunk five of the biggests myths about sustainable seafood in Hong Kong.
1. There's plenty of fish in the sea.
Hong Kong might seem to have an endless supply of seafood, but in reality 80 percent of the world's fisheries are already fully- to over-exploited, depleted or in a state of collapse.
"Overfishing leads to the extinction of certain types of fish," said Josh Chu, executive chef and general manager of Posto Pubblico, one of the restaurants in Hong Kong that offers an ocean-friendly menu. "It's important to source sustainably because it's better for our planet."
2. We don't eat that much seafood anyway.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Hong Kong people consume an average of 64.4 kg of seafood per person per year, which is about 3.8 times higher than the global average (17.1 kg per capita) and double the per capita consumption in mainland China.
Hong Kong is now the second largest per capita consumer of seafood in Asia, and the tenth largest in the world. So, think about these figures the next time you're about to order seafood.
3. Sustainable seafood is more expensive.
Just like any other food, some sustainable seafood can be more expensive especially for mainstream fish. But, if you're willing to try something new, there are many other inexpensive choices out there like farmed mussels and clams, squid, rainbow trout and scallops.
Make simple swaps in your seafood recipes with the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) guide of 67 common seafood items consumed in Hong Kong, which are grouped into three categories: green for recommended, yellow for think twice and red to avoid.
4. Sustainable seafood doesn't taste as good as normal seafood.
We dare you to try Shore's 42 degree Petuna Farms ocean trout with prawns, peas, leeks, broad beans, pancetta and chervil cream (HK$288) and tell us it doesn't taste as good as "normal" seafood.
Or, head to Posto Publicco from 26 November 2011 for their Zuppa di Pesce, seafood soup with king prawn and cod fish (HK$230) and Catfish Fra Diavolo, spicy marinated catfish from Vietnam (HK$180), two other delicious dishes that won't harm the oceans.
5. Sustainable seafood is hard to find in Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong is a city where you can buy whatever you want," said Jason Black, executive chef at Shore. "It took us 10 minutes to find a sustainable source and we still get our fish from the same supplier."
For consumers, there are now over 40 restaurants in Hong Kong that offer ocean-friendly menus, including Posto Pubblico, Shore, FINDS, Coast Bistro & Bar, TAKU, Lil' Siam and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, so don't be shy about asking for a sustainable seafood option on the menu.
The WWF have also developed a sustainable seafood iPhone app to help you make great seafood choices on-the-go, which can be downloaded for free from the App store.
Save the date: On 26 November 2011, the WWF will be hosting a free sustainable seafood tasting event at Coast Bistro & Bar in Central from 3pm to 5pm, followed by a week of sustainable seafood menus at nine participating restaurants in Soho.