Long John Silver’s Hoists Jolly Roger for Sustainable Seafood

Long John SilversThanks to a new Long John Silver’s ad campaign and its upcoming elimination of trans fats, one of my guilty pleasures could soon feel a bit less guilty.

A new set of ads raise the Jolly Roger in honor of sustainable food and more environmentally sound eating, citing the benefits of fish from fewer methane emissions when compared to livestock, and real free-range food from “the final frontier,” otherwise known as the North Pacific.

It’s no accident this brand change is coming at the breakwater of Lent, when millions of consumers switch their diets and many fast food restaurants start promoting their fish sandwiches. Judging from the networks on which the new campaign will premier–Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel, HGTV, ESPN2 and TNT–Long John Silver’s is arguably targeting an environmentally conscious and educated audience.

Of course there’s always the potential for greenwashing here. According to Long John Silver’s, the fish it uses for its “core” products is wild caught. Those delicious crunchy white meat fish fillets and the crunchy, yummy bits of batter around it. Environmental groups warn about the disatrous practice of overfishing. According to Overfishing.org, at least 25 percent of fish stocks around the world are over-exploited or depleted, while 52 percent are already fully exploited.

Long John Silver’s, however, states that it relies on sustainable fishing practices–sourcing its “core” products from certified supplies and sustainable fisheries in the North Pacific, in the Bearing Sea, while the lobster is sourced from Norway Lobster in Northern Europe. “Sustainable,” of course, meaning that the fisheries aren’t depleted to the point where the fish cannot reproduce. Most of the rest of the product, such as shrimp, is sourced from farms.  Long John Silver’s points out, as well, that fish is more environmentally friendly than red meat and burgers based on the lower methane and greenhouse gas footprint of fish.

What fish, exactly, is Long John Silver’s using for its delicious fried fish, which they just list as “fish”?  Well, they’re a bit cagey about that, which doesn’t help consumers who want to make their own informed decisions about what is or is not sustainably harvested. However LJS is making an important step forward by opening themselves up to these questions in the first place as they claim sustainable fishing practices.

Long John Silver’s has also been overhauling its menu to offer healthier options. This comes after the Center for Science in the Public Interest publicly keelhauled the franchise for having one of the unhealthiest restaurant meals in America. The Big Catch plate was lambasted for having a heart-stopping 333 grams of trans fats.

Of course it will continue offering the items that I, particularly, crave in the middle of the night: the fried fish and clam strips. The chain claimed that it would end its use of trans fat oils at the end of 2013. That’s a great start. They’re also opening up a menu of unfried foods, such as baked cod and shrimp.

Frankly, as a huge fan of Long John Silver’s, I’m heartened to see this rebranding and hope it’s followed up with continued and deepened efforts toward sustainability and health.

Image credit: Nicholas Eckhart: Source (cropped)

Eric Justian

Eric Justian is a professional writer living near the natural sugar sand beaches and singing sand dunes of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Michigan. When he's not wrangling his kids or tapping at his computer, he likes to putter in his garden, catch king salmon from the Big Lake, or go pan fishing with his boys.As a successful blogger his main focus has been energy, Great Lakes issues and local food.Eric is a founding member of the West Michgian Jobs Group, a non-profit organization that evolved from a Facebook page called Yest to West Michigan Wind Power which now has over 8000 followers. West Michigan Jobs Group promotes independent businesses and sustainable industries in the West Michigan area. As the Executive Director of that organization he has advocated renewable energy as both a clean energy alternative for Michigan and a new industry with which to diversify our economy and spark Michigan innovation and jobs.

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