Burger Wisconsin makes better choice for our oceans

Nationwide gourmet burger chain Burger Wisconsin will switch to more sustainably harvested fish in its burgers to help restore the environmental health of our oceans.

Conservation group Forest & Bird is delighted that Burger Wisconsin has chosen to follow the advice of Forest & Bird’s Best Fish Guide and switch from deepwater oreo/dory to tarakihi in its burgers in its 24 outlets around New Zealand starting in July.

Deepwater oreo/dory is listed in the red section of the Best Fish Guide, which means the fishery is not sustainable, so consumers should avoid buying this fish. Tarakihi is in the amber zone, which means that it is a better choice in terms of environmental sustainability. Tarakihi is a well-known and tasty fish which many New Zealanders have caught and consumed on summer holiday fishing trips.

Forest & Bird marine advocate Kirstie Knowles says deepwater oreo/dory, together with mako and porbeagle shark and southern bluefin tuna, has the second worst ecological ranking of a commercial fishery in New Zealand.

Like most deepwater fish species they are long-lived (86-153 years), slow-growing and slow breeders, which makes them vulnerable to overfishing and population depletion.

They are also caught by bottom trawling, which damages fragile seafloor habitats and marine life. The fishery catches a range of non-target and by-catch species, including seabirds, marine mammals, deepwater sharks, sponges and corals – some more than 500 years old.

Tarakihi is less vulnerable to pressure from fishing. Although it still has some ecological impact through use of trawl nets, it is a much better choice for the marine environment than deepwater oreo/dory, Kirstie Knowles says.

Burger Wisconsin Co-franchisor Steve Hanna says Burger Wisconsin is committed to creating the best burgers as sustainably as possible.

“We are on a path to ensuring our restaurants tread lightly on the Earth. Changing our fish to tarakihi will ensure our customers are eating a great-tasting New Zealand fish, as well as making a positive environmental choice.”

Burger Wisconsin will also make the Best Fish Guide available to its customers so they can make the best choice for our oceans every time they buy fish. The guide ranks fish species available to New Zealand consumers to allow people to assess which fisheries have the least impact on the marine environment, so make the best choice when they buy fish. Half a million Best Fish Guide wallet cards have been distributed since its launch in 2004 and the guide is regularly updated.

“Forest & Bird congratulates Burger Wisconsin for taking steps to improve the environmental impact of its business and its customers,” Kirstie Knowles says. If all food outlets made an effort to make more sustainable choices in the products they buy and sell, our fisheries would be much more sustainable – so we are grateful to Burger Wisconsin for leading the way.” 

Forest & Bird marine advocate Kirstie Knowles 04 801 2210
Burger Wisconsin – Steve Hanna 04 384 9000

For more information go to:
Best fish guide - http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/publications/-best-fish-guide