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Restaurant chain takes endangered fish off menu.

8th February 2002

One of Britain's leading restaurant chains yesterday took three of its most popular fish off the menu after a conservation group warned that overfishing was endangering the survival of the species.

Fish specialists, Loch Fyne, announced that monkfish, swordfish and skate were no longer going to be served in their 17 restaurants following warnings about their long-term sustainability from the Marine Conservation Society. Stocks of the three fish have reduced dramatically in recent years as suppliers have sought to meet increasing demand.

All three species have been boycotted amid fears that overfishing could terminally deplete stocks, and that their removal could drastically alter the marine environment.

Monkfish is particularly vulnerable to overfishing. All monkfish in British waters is thought to originate from a single stock that spawns in deep water off the west of Scotland, where levels of fishing are particularly high.

Skate has been hit hard too. The common skate is now so uncommon that it is not found off the English and Welsh coasts, while the demise of the swordfish, a predator, is upsetting the deep-sea ecosystem in which it thrives.

Bernadette Clarke of the MCS said: "The Loch Fyne companies have set a good example - a number of the fish we have highlighted as at risk are very popular in restaurants in the UK so this is a big step.

Mark Derry, managing director of Loch Fyne Restaurants, said they would be looking for alternative species.

"Our position is that not only is factory style fishing, where huge dragnets indiscriminately haul everything out of the water, environmentally unsound, but it also destroys the small fishing communities that traditionally have fished responsibly."

A list of the 20 most at risk species is featured in the MCS’ Good Fish Guide.

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