Heidi Spurrell | 20th May 2021 | 4min read


Heidi Spurrell and Richard Ekkebus taking Q and As 


By Sarah-Jane Tucker


The drive towards sourcing sustainable seafood has become a topical conversation lately and is also the theme of our latest Sustainability Meet-Up Series event this month: warmly hosted at Alibi thanks to Chef James Oakley and Chef Paul Mcloughlin with the Cordis Hotel team. In addition to the spacious venue for our monthly Meet-Up, Chef James and his team prepared a delicious vegetarian and vegan spread for us to nibble on while we listened to the informative presentations that morning. The healthy smoothie and buddha bowls paired so nicely with the homemade granola and selection of delicious vegetarian and vegan dim sum, courtesy of Ming Court Michelin starred Chinese restaurant at the Cordis Hotel.


(Top to bottom) The Cordis Hotel delicious breakfast options, Up close and personal with the food 



Our speakers reminded us that as the world continues to become more environmentally conscious we can appreciate how important it is to protect our great ocean resource. After all, our global waters combined produce up to 80% of the World’s oxygen and absorb more than 90% of the heat generated from greenhouse gas emissions. The oceans provide a vital protein and nutrient source for many communities, while supporting an array of livelihoods and local economies among populations across the globe.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that not all seafood is extracted from the ocean in the same way and there is a growing understanding that damaging fishing practices which deplete fish stocks and pollute our oceans must come to an end. Supporting positive and responsible industry reform is the only way our ocean can continue to protect us against global warming, while also supplying sufficient healthy fish stocks to our growing global population in the future.


xJames Oakley and Chloe Li presenting their seafood sustainability journey slides 


Nowhere in the world is this more relevant than in Hong Kong, one of the greatest lovers of seafood measured per capita, consuming over 3 times the global average amount each year.  All Hong Kong restaurants seeking to meet the growing demand for sustainably sourced seafood on the menu will therefore have the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards improving the future outlook for the industry.



While high profile documentaries such as the recent Netflix show Seaspiracy bring widespread attention to some of the issues, in fact many of our member chefs have been taking the matter of sourcing sustainably very seriously for a long time and recall working behind the scenes to address the challenge for the past several years.

Our host and speaker James Oakley from Alibi is one of these, where he set the challenge of introducing 100% sustainable seafood to the restaurant four years ago. Chef James built a popular menu using only products listed in the sustainable seafood catalogues approved by certification organisations such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Each time the choice of dish had been agreed it would be standard practice to send the entire menu to WWF for review. Then the most up to date feedback would be used to tweak and improve the menu accordingly.


Chef Paul Mcloughlin from the Cordis Hotel (Left), Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good (middle), James Oakley from Alibi


Now the restaurant is taking responsible sourcing one step further, by sourcing from local Hong Kong based farms wherever possible and adding the additional measure of going out to visit the fish farms directly. That way, Alibi will be confident they have assessed the supplier’s sustainability credentials for themselves and are truly selecting seafood products from the right sources.


Chef Richard Ekkebus from Amber giving his prentation 


Chef Richard Ekkebus from Amber reiterated why sourcing sustainable seafood is a matter of concern for us all by sharing data to show that each person in Hong Kong ate over 70kgs of seafood in 2011, a number that is growing every year. The Feedback Report ‘On The Hook’ raises the challenge of how much seafood is being consumed when it says “we only have a finite quantity of truly sustainably fished seafood.” The report also finds that consumers in wealthier countries are consuming the fish that might otherwise be sold at local markets and support local livelihoods and good nutrition elsewhere. Chef Richard reminds us that mixing up the menu, respecting the season and providing accurate information to staff and guests are great methods for reducing our impact on our seas. Additionally, restaurants should also promote filter-feeding seafood, such as mussels and oysters as it requires no feeding and has 0 negative impact on the environment. He also shared some great swaps to help us diversify the menu including changing out Pollack for Cod, and Skipjack tuna for Bluefin tuna.


(Top to bottom) Lily Wang from InvestHK (left), Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good (Middle), Sindy Wong from InvesHK (middle), Corin Wilson from the Department of International Trade, Members playing a quiz at the end of the event


Finally Benjamin So, Chairman of the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition (HKSSC) was able to share briefly what he’s doing with the Code of Conduct to support suppliers and large hotel groups to understand the different challenges in the fish supply chain. Fortunately he was able to remind us the HKSSC is here to help businesses striving to raise standards within their supply chains, and that they provide resources for its members working through a process of risk assessments and audits to improve transparency and traceability in their restaurants, while using its influence to shape industry and government policy.

There was so much to learn from our speakers this month. A big thank you to them all and again: to Chef James Oakley and the team at the Cordis Hotel for being wonderful hosts, chef Richard Ekkebus, and Benjamin So. We also want to thank InvestHK for their continued support at our monthly sustainable Meet Up series.

Stay tuned for upcoming member events.