McDonald's Fish Sandwich Eco-Sustainable: Can Filet-O-Fish And Fish McBites Save Our Oceans?

By Danny Choy on January 25, 2013 11:13 AM EST

filet-o-fish
McDonald's is the first U.S. restaurant chain to serve certified sustainable seafood at all of its locations. (Photo: McDonald's)

Who would have thought that a simple McDonald's fish sandwich could become so remarkable? Today, McDonald's fast food giant has announced that it is officially the first national restaurant chain to offer certified eco-sustainable seafood at all of its 14,000 U.S. locations.

The achievement would not have been possible without fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly of Canada's University of British Columbia, who questioned whether it was possible to create a sustainable source of food. According to Pauly's idea, a strategy of eating long-term sustainable-caught seafood can stop the dramatic decline of global fish stock.

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In 2005, McDonald's, one of the world's largest buyers of fish, has agreed to participate in Pauly's study by purchasing its U.S. fish exclusively from America's largest sustainable caught fishery -- wild-caught Alaskan pollock.

Since 2005, McDonald's performed a series of audits to its supply chain to ensure sustainability and traceability. Awarding McDonald's for its efforts, independent nonprofit fishing organization Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will give all U.S. McDonald's chains a special blue eco-label as a stamp of approval.

MSC-certified eco-sustainable foods on the McDonald's menu will include the Filet-O-Fish sandwich as well as the upcoming Fish McBites that is expected to launch later this year.

"It's exciting for us," said Susan Forsell, McDonald's vice president of sustainability for the U.S. market.

Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of U.S. supply chain and sustainability emphasized the significance of McDonald's certification.

"We're extremely proud of the fact that this decision ensures our customers will continue to enjoy the same great taste and high quality of our fish with the additional assurance that the fish they are buying can be traced back to a fishery that meets MSC's strict sustainability standard."

McDonald's is a major global player, with a total of 34,000 long-term restaurants that serve 69 million customers every day from 119 countries.

To meet the demand, McDonald's executives have seen many fisheries dry up, disrupting supply lines. If more restaurants follow suit in pursuing eco-sustainable seafood sources, our ocean's threatened fish stock can be better protected from overfishing.

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