In 2011, McDonald’s announced that it would serve sustainable fish at all of its European chains. At the time, McDonald's said it was taking the step because it was “faced with persistent criticism from environmentalists who accuse it of destructive practices.” Europeans who were concerned about the environment spoke loudly and often enough to get McDonald’s to listen.

I find it interesting that when McDonald’s announced last month that the company would now serve sustainable fish in the United States, officials didn’t give any credit to those who had persistently criticed the company. Instead, they gave credit to themselves, saying the following in a Jan. 24 McDonald’s press release (pdf).

In recognition of its 10-year commitment to sustainable fishing practices, McDonald’s USA announced today it would become the first national restaurant chain to adopt the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue ecolabel on its fish packaging in restaurants nationwide.
If I read this correctly, they’re celebrating being sustainable for the past 10 years by becoming … sustainable. Okay, whatever.

Along with the announcement of the Marine Stewardship Council’s endorsement, McDonald’s released this commercial.

When I hear the voice in the commercial say “I’ve never seen an ecosystem that’s anything like the Bering Sea,” I have to wonder how long that ecosystem is going to remain so wonderful now that it’s being fished for Alaska pollock, which the Marine Stewardship Council says is sustainable.

In the past, McDonald’s, along with other chain restaurants, have used New Zealand hoki for its Filet-O-Fish, but overfishing depleted the population quickly. Could the same happen with the Alaska pollock?

I don’t ever want to discourage a business, any business, from taking steps to make their operations more sustainable. It’s good that McDonald’s is considering the source of its fish and trying to be more sustainable. Hopefully, the fast-food chain will keep a close eye on the fisheries it uses to make sure that they remain sustainable.

Related post on MNN: Are healthier fast-food meals for kids actually healthy?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Can McDonald's keep its fish supply sustainable?
McDonald's adopts the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue ecolabel for its Filet-O-Fish. Will high demand for the sandwich create an overfishing problem?