JCRs cast a line for sustainable fish

first_imgJCRs throughout Oxford have been calling for colleges to switch to sustainable fish as part of a major environmental campaign.Five colleges have already passed a motion mandating a member of the JCR to request that the college not serve unsustainably caught or endangered fish, and replace them with more sustainably caught species. Worcester, who voted to switch fish sources last term, were recently followed by Magdalen, Regents Park, St John’s and St Hugh’s.Hector Guinness, a Zoology student at Worcester, who has been helping to lead the campaign through the Oxford Environment Group said, “The aim is to have all college kitchens agree to stop serving fish from unsustainable sources by the end of this year.”A fact sheet accompanying the motion by Marica Haig, Worcester’s Environment representative and OUSU Biodiversity representative explains that fishing levels are currently at less than 1% of their 1977 levels. “The over exploitation of our oceans will mean that within our lifetimes the ecology of all seas will have shifted so dramatically that no edible fish species will survive to be of use to humans ever again,” she said.“We have two options – we could ‘hurry while stocks last’, and eat all we can while there are any left, or choose the sustainable future, and demand that kitchens in Oxford are not driving demand for unsustainably caught fish, and send a clear message that we want sustainably harvested fish, or no fish at all,” Haig continued.The proposal added that current over-exploitation does not mean that colleges will never be able to serve fish again. “The sea is a valuable natural resource that can provide some of our dietary requirements if it is harvested in an appropriate way using modern sustainable techniques.”The motion passed with little opposition from the Worcester JCR, despite concerns over the increased cost of buying sustainable fish. Haig explained that this had caused some objections from the Catering Manager. “He thought using sustainably sourced seafood would cause an increase in the cost of the meals which members of all the common rooms would object too, especially the SCR who are served cod and swordfish relatively frequently.”“However the college Dean fully supported the motion and encouraged me to talk directly to the Provost, who agreed that the SCR could live without these fish, and gave his support for the policy. Since then the Catering Manager has been looking into alternative species or sources, and any unsustainably sourced fish have been removed from the menu,” she said.Guinness recognised that the change may involve more effort from kitchen staff. “Some chefs seem to be worried about things getting more complicated for them, which is why the motion is phrased negatively rather than asking for specific alternatives,” he said.Haig has passed the motion and fact sheet on to Environment representatives across the University in the hope that more colleges will implement it. She said, “we are aiming to get as many colleges as possible to pass this motion as it is an important cause which could greatly benefit simply by raising awareness so that people start to think about where the fish they buy came from.”Regent’s Park passed the motion two weeks ago. Emmeline Smart, a third year Geographer and the JCR Environment representative said, “the motion was passed with only one person against and has been widely supported by members of Regent’s Park. Our kitchen staff have been very supportive and have changed the types of fish we use in college- they argue that they only used unsustainable fish before because students were unwilling to try different fish.”She encourages other colleges to do the same, saying, “This just shows how easy it is to raise awareness and make a difference on this issue.”College authorities at St John’s have also been enthusiastic to adopt the changes, and motions have been passed in both the JCR and MCR. The Catering Manager and Dean support the idea and are trying instigate changes in the SCR. Guinness said, “monkfish and swordfish have been taken off the list of choices for the guest dinners and the catering manager has a ‘good fish guide’ to follow when buying for hall generally.”Magdalen JCR has also passed the motion with no opposition. Environment and Ethics representative Jenny Chapman explained that she hoped the Hall Manager would not reject the initiative due to problems of expense. “There is no reason why it should be more expensive, it would just mean that our fish would come from elsewhere,” she said.he journal ‘Science’ has suggested that, if current trends continue, there will be a total marine collapse by 2050, with a loss of 90% of each species.last_img

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