Fishing for help on sustainable seafood?

Fishing for help on sustainable seafood?

20 April 2008

by Seattle Times staff

Here are some Web sites — and a book — where you can read more about sustainable seafood, including lists of “best, OK and worst” choices, and where to buy certified sustainable seafood.

Environmental Defense Fund’s “Eco-Friendly Seafood Selector” Includes lots of info about sustainable fisheries, with lists of “Eco-best, eco-OK and eco-worst” fish to eat, assembled with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

It lists the three “eco-best” shrimp as:

• Oregon pink shrimp, the first shrimp fishery to complete the Marine Stewardship Council’s rigorous certification process and be labeled as “sustainably harvested.” (Two other shrimp fisheries have since applied and are in the process of certification.)

• U.S. farmed shrimp: “U.S. shrimp farms have made notable environmental progress in recent years, thanks to measures to reduce water pollution and responsible siting practices. Farms are sited on converted agricultural land instead of coastal wetlands.” (Not eligible for the marine council’s rigorous certification, since the council’s scope is limited to wild-caught seafood at this time, though that could change in the future.)

• Spot prawns from Canada: “Spot prawns are caught with traps, which result in relatively low bycatch and habitat damage … British Columbia populations are the healthiest; overfishing is occurring in the Alaskan fishery.” (The B.C. spot prawn industry has not applied for marine council certification.)

“Eco-OK” choices: Northern shrimp from U.S. and Canada; spot prawns from the U.S.

“Eco-worst:” imported shrimp and prawns.

The Marine Stewardship Council, www.msc.org.

Find lists of where to buy fish products with the sustainable label from this independent non-profit organization that certifies wild-caught sustainable seafood.

Note: Since Oregon pink shrimp has only recently been added to the list of seafoods certified by the MSC, the council’s still in the process of adding shrimp to its “where to buy” lists. However, most of the small shrimp sold in the Northwest is Oregon pink shrimp, and thus widely available at area stores. If you don’t see a label, ask your fishmonger where the shrimp was caught.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch,

The program also publishes a comprehensive pocket guide with its recommendations, which are also available for cell phones and other mobile devices with an Internet connection (you can use your phone to log on to www.seafoodwatch.org.)

Blue Ocean, www.blueocean.org

An ocean conservation group, also with a list of recommended seafood choices.

Best Aquaculture Practices, www.aquaculturecertification.orgAquaculture Certification Council, Inc. is a Kirkland, Wa.-based nongovernmental body, established to “certify social, environmental and food safety standards at aquaculture facilities throughout the world,” with an emphasis on food safety.

The council currently certifies shrimp hatcheries, farms and seafood-processing plants, mostly overseas, bestowing the “Best Aquaculture Practices certified” label of the aquaculture trade organization Global Aquaculture Alliance. Tilapia and catfish should be added by mid-year. Shrimp products carrying the BAP logo can be found at Wal-Mart stores and some Sam’s Clubs, and occasionally at grocery stores.

Mangrove Action Project, www.mangroveactionproject.org
Headquartered in Port Angeles, the project is campaigning to raise awareness about imported farmed shrimp, which it considers “the No. 1 threat to mangroves, causing environmental, social, and economic destruction.” The group is concerned that the world’s large appetite for shrimp can’t be satisfied by the current available sustainable shrimp supply, which then creates pressures on mangrove forests and related coastal ecosystems.

“Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood,” by Taras Grescoe, Bloomsbury USA., $24.95.

This book examining the seafood industry, due out next month, purports to “do for seafood what ‘Fast Food Nation’ did for beef.”

Source: Seattle Times