Selected tags: Monterey Bay Aquarium

From ‘Avoid’ to ‘Enjoy’: West Coast Groundfish Completes Sustainability Sweep

© Monterey Bay Aquarium

© Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, considered by many to be the ultimate arbiter of sustainability for the U.S. seafood market, has released five new reports on the West Coast groundfish fishery. In these new assessments they concluded that almost 40 types of rockfish, sole and other fish species – representing virtually all groundfish caught on the West Coast – are now considered sustainable seafood choices.

This announcement comes on the heels of another sustainability milestone for this fishery. Just two months ago, a large portion of the same fishery was also certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

This was not always the case. The fishery was declared a federal disaster in 2000. After years of overfishing and declining productivity, the fishing industry began working with Environmental Defense Fund experts and federal regulators to design a new management system that better aligned the interests of fishermen and fish populations. Read More »

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I’ll Have the Gulf Red Snapper, Please

Fresh Red Snapper

Gulf Red Snapper

[This was originally posted in National Geographic's Ocean Views Blog]

I’m thrilled to report that Gulf of Mexico red snapper got a little less “red” today. That’s because our partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program – the most well-known sustainable seafood program in the United States – announced that they’ve removed the commercial fishery for Gulf of Mexico red snapper from their ‘Avoid’ list and awarded them a new ‘Good Alternative’ rating.

While there are still improvements to be made in this fishery, let’s take a minute to appreciate how much progress has been made in the last few years. Gulf of Mexico red snapper used to be a poster child for unsafe, wasteful fishing. In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s the fishery was ruled by derby seasons where fishermen raced to catch as much fish as possible a few days every month. This had tremendous consequences for both fish and fishermen, as quality and profitability suffered and the red snapper population dwindled.

Fortunately, fishermen, managers and conservationists finally recognized the severity of the problem and decided to get the fishery back on track. In 2007, an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program, coupled with a scientifically set catch limit, was implemented that put Gulf red snapper on the road to recovery. Since then, rebuilding red snapper populations have supported a 70% increase in fishing quotas, waste of marketable fish has declined by about 50%, and fishermen earn 33% more per pound of fish landed. Commercial fishing seasons now last the full year, and the sector demonstrates strong compliance with its catch limit. These same fishermen even pioneered an innovative new traceability program after the Deepwater Horizon disaster that tracks every single fish back to the boat that caught it. Read More »

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The New Sardine: Thinking Outside the Can

By Kristen Honey, EDF Lorry Lokey Fellow 

Are sardines making a sustainable and sumptuous comeback? The Washington Post attempted to address this very question yesterday in a provocative article about the self-proclaimed “Sardinistas.”  According to this group of nutritionists, environmentalists and foodie revolutionaries, the answer is a resounding “yes!”  Sardine advocates and cutting-edge green chefs like Dean Gold and David Myers are bringing this smelly canned food out of the cob-webbed cabinet corner and back into the kitchen in innovative new ways. Or they are trying to, at least.

Just recently, I had the privilege of attending a private luncheon with the Sardinistas at filmmaker Mark Shelley’s Sea Studios Foundation on Monterey’s Cannery Row.  The purpose of this luncheon was to highlight their recent efforts to promote sardines as a delicious and sustainable seafood choice.   What struck me was their point that while Americans love eating tuna and other steak-like fish, we need to eat fish farther down the food chain (like sardines) to help alleviate pressure at the top. 

After talking shop, we had the chance to eat delectable canned, frozen and fresh sardine dishes by renowned chef Alton Brown of The Food Network!  If you don’t take my word for how tasty these creatures can be, try out for yourself these sardine-centric recipes for Sarde Arrosto (Griddle Roasted Sardines), Stuffed Sardines and Vuido (widowed potatoes).

Mike Sutton (Director of Monterey Bay AquariumI was pleased that the group tied in the tastings with a bit of history, noting that Cannery Row was once considered the sardine Mecca of the U.S. in the late 1930s. However, by the 1950s the sardine population was severely depleted due to poor fishery management that didn’t take into account natural ocean cycles. 

The tides have changed (no oceans pun intended) for these cute little guys and today EDF’s Seafood Selector rates Pacific sardines as an “eco-best fish.”  Their re-emergence was no accident; the sardine fishery is now managed in a sustainable way, with fishing quotas at one-tenth of what they were during the 1930s.  So listen to your curious, daring taste-buds and eat some sardines for a change – not only do all those omega-3 fatty acids improve your health, but you are doing a service to the planet.

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