Fish Right, Eat Right in San Pedro: A Guide To Certified Restaurants Pledged To Sustainability

How can you ensure the seafood you’re enjoying in San Pedro Town is sustainable? Not only that, you can even know how your favorite fish dish was caught and where it came from, thanks to the Fish Right, Eat Right (FRER) program. The sustainability effort was created in 2016 to curb illegal fishing and encourage the sustainable sourcing of seafood. Backed by Oceana Belize, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Belize Tourism Board, the Belize Tourism Industry Association, and the Environmental Defence Fund, the program highlights establishments and fishermen responsibly doing their part. In San Pedro, there are a handful of restaurants supporting this initiative that has since become Fish Right, Eat Right certified restaurants. With this good news, we want to challenge you to get out there and enjoy this delicious, educational adventure. Here’s where to eat right with sustainably sourced seafood while in San Pedro Town, Belize! 

Elvi’s Kitchen

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Stone crabs are a uniquely sustainable, renewable seafood resource — because crabs have the ability to regrow harvested claws. Chef Jennie of Elvi’s Kitchen has insisted on claws only for this reason, creating a demand for fishers to respond sustainably. Image via Elvi’s Kitchen

One of the oldest restaurants in San Pedro located on Pescador Drive in the downtown area, Elvi’s Kitchen has been with the FRER program since its inception in 2016. Head Chef Jennie Staines is an active advocate for sustainable fishing and only obtains seafood from reputable sources/fishers. Before joining Fish Right, Eat Right program, Staines said she would source part of her seafood from Belize City; now, with this program, she gets most of her products from island fishers that now abide by the initiative’s goals. Elvi’s Kitchen is particularly known for its crab claws, which are sustainably harvested.

Chef Jennie Staines is a Oceana 2021 Ocean Hero.

You can be more than satisfied when eating seafood at Elvi’s Kitchen knowing your fish fillet, whole fish, and seasonal conch or lobster are obtained in a responsible manner. On each table, you will notice QR Codes, through which you can find information about the product by scanning it with your cell phone. This is found in other participating restaurants as well. Furthermore, your patronage will continue to support the cause of sustainable fishing and conservation.

Wild Mango’s

“This is something we take seriously here at Wild Mango’s. We always check our fish and require a skin tag on our purchases from our fishermen.”

This beachfront, sea-view restaurant with a laid-back vibe on Barrier Reef Drive is another establishment deeply interested in protecting and preserving the country’s marine life. Operated by Chef Amy Knox, Wild Mango’s is a favorite place for a quiet dinner next to the Caribbean Sea, which is certified sustainable thanks to the Fish Right, Eat Right program. One of their famous dishes is the pan-roasted snapper. Dine or dash at Wild Mango’s, find them near the local library and adjacent to Belize Chocolate Company. 

Blue Water Grill 

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Blue Water Grill. Image via Sunbreeze Hotel/Duarte Dellarole

This is another relaxed restaurant that’s a local favorite just a couple of yards south of Wild Mango’s. Blue Water Grill is attached to Sunbreeze Hotel and although it is under new management, they continue supporting Fish Right, Eat Right. They joined the program in 2019, and long before that they had been providing their guests a culinary experience of a lifetime. Although Blue Water Grill is a very busy restaurant, they continue to overcome the challenges of sourcing sustainably caught seafood. This is the place for family settings and it has actually become a haven for sushi lovers. Their sister eatery Red Ginger, found onsite at The Phoenix Resort, is also a part of the FRER program.

El Fogon

El Fogon is well-known in San Pedro for its authentic way of cooking some of its meals: over a fire hearth. The operations of this traditional eatery are founded on sustainable practices as their management strongly supports conservation. They shared that their seafood stock is always fresh and well-sourced, and patrons can rely on having the catch of the day when ordering seafood. Located on 2 Trigger Street in downtown San Pedro, near the local municipal airport, El Fogon is perfect for lunch and dinners.

Estel’s Dine by the Sea

Near Central Park and overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Estel’s Dine by the Sea is one of the most popular breakfast spots on the island. They are also known for their amazing BBQs and of course seafood specialties such as whole fish, fish fillet, and crab claws among seasonal items such as lobsters and conch. Rest assured that whether dining breakfast or otherwise at this restaurant, your seafood was sustainably sourced with Estel’s participation in the Fish Right, Eat Right Program. 

How the Fish Right, Eat Right program works

The latest update in the project requires participating fishermen to install a camera on the vessel to capture the fishing activity. At the end of the day, the fisherman uploads the footage to a server where the video can be reviewed from anywhere via an app called Fresca Pesca. Restaurateurs need to download this app to register their business and view through that platform what fish products are available for purchase. They will know what is available for purchase because participating fishers will upload information about their catch of the day via an eReporting app. In addition, when the fish is brought to the participating restaurant, the container/icebox carrying the seafood product will bear a label with a QR code. This will be scanned by the restaurant staff before purchasing the product. It will let them know where it was caught.

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Chef Amy of Wild Mango’s proudly donning the Fish Right, Eat Right sticker for her restaurant. Image via FRER Program.

Fish Right, Eat Right aims to guarantee seafood caught by engaging practices that promote sustainability, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship in restaurants. Spread the word of this amazing program with others, including non-participating restaurants, and keep an eye out for the logo! For more information, visit the Fish Right, Eat Right website here

Written by Dion Vansen. All images courtesy of Fish Right, Eat Right program unless stated otherwise.

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