How the ROC (restaurant or caterer) Group Works:
The ROC Group is designed to make MSC Certification as accessible as possible. In particular:
The Certification costs should be as low as possible. The bulk of the costs at the moment are because single site businesses must be visited by an auditor in-person, each year, to ensure they are complying with the MSC traceability requirements. For Groups (for example a restaurant chain) only a sample of sites are audited, as long as there is someone centrally managing the group and ensuring that all sites follow the requirements. If lots of small businesses join together and get a group certificate…there are fewer audits across the group… and therefore the costs can be much lower. Simple!
Loads of paperwork is the arch nemesis of the busy chef. In a Group Certification, a Group Manager carries out a lot of the administrative work – decides what training everyone needs, ensures the group is following the most up to date requirements, etc. So as a member of a group there is less paperwork required than for having a single-site certificate. The documents I have created for group members are very simple, and created with the help of chefs to minimise the amount of administrative work for members.
I am confident that this system is simpler, and less expensive, whilst maintaining the MSC’s strong traceability standard. This should leave more time for restaurants to make a shout about their sustainable fish - which is also something I help with. The more we can increase the visibility of the MSC ecolabel, the more consumers get used to choosing MSC certified sustainable fish, and therefore recognise and reward certified restaurants.
Whilst setting up the group I have worked with a number of restaurants to make the system work as smoothly as possible. Many thanks especially to Equinox Fish Bar in Hackbridge, Kingfisher Fish and Chips in Plymouth, and Olley’s Fish Experience in Herne Hill; the first three restaurants to join the group, and brilliant guinea pigs.
Why I set up this new certification system:
At the moment there are over 5000 places in the UK that a fishfan can go to eat MSC certified fish – the majority are schools, catering sites like workplaces, large restaurants chains and universities. Less than 50 are small restaurants or independent businesses. Yet the restaurant sector is crucial for fisheries too small to supply supermarkets and by putting MSC certified fish on the menu, restaurants can support a sustainable future for these fisheries. We know that consumers are increasingly concerned about eating sustainable fish, and they are delighted when it is easy to make a sustainable choice.
We need the expertise of chefs on the side of sustainable fishing. Join the ROC Group and join an increasing number of restaurants with the MSC ecolabel on the menu
I am a food-lover and a conservationist and worked for the Marine Stewardship Council for nearly 4 years, getting MSC certified sustainable fish onto menus across the UK. I left in October 2013 and I decided to use my experience to set up a simpler certification option, specifically for restaurants, and manage it myself.